Maternal Fetal Medicine: Genetic Counseling

Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group – Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specializes in high-risk pregnancies and works closely with patients and their OB/GYNs to provide personalized coordinated care. The all-female practice is comprised of MFM physicians, a genetic counselor, sonographers and nurses specially trained in maternal-fetal health. MFM physicians have completed four years of OB/GYN residency after medical school, followed by three years of advanced training in an MFM fellowship for special competence in obstetrical, medical and surgical complications of pregnancy. Sonographers have advanced training and certification and are experts in performing high-level ultrasounds, which provide detailed anatomical images of fetal growth and development.

OB/GYNs refer patients to MFM specialists based on risk factors that may affect their pregnancy, including family history of genetic conditions, the presence of maternal medical conditions, maternal age (35 years and older at delivery) and multiple births (twins or more). Throughout the pregnancy, the MFM specialists are there to answer patients’ questions and concerns. “Our practice is committed to providing excellent service and high-quality care,” says Nisha Vyas, MD, FACOG. “We make it a priority to be accessible to our patients, offering extended hours and same-day, urgent appointments.”

Any time there is an increased risk for genetic conditions, due to maternal age, family history, or a previous birth experience with a genetic condition, such as cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome or a chromosomal abnormality, genetic counseling is recommended.

Kyla Patek, MS, Certified Genetic Counselor, typically sees patients for genetic screening when an abnormality is detected on ultrasound. She provides information and guidance to patients regarding first-trimester screening, cell-free DNA testing, Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS), and amniocentesis. “There is more information available for expectant mothers than ever before, but the results of these tests are often complicated and may not be clear cut,” says Patek. “Genetic counseling is a tool that when used in combination with screening results, ultrasounds and family history, can provide important information to expectant parents,” says Patek. “All of my genetic consultations are done face-to-face, allowing patients the time to ask questions and discuss all options available.”

Patek’s varied background brings a unique perspective to her work today. Her previous experience includes prenatal care, laboratory research, and neurologic and cancer disorders. “I have a passion for research and genetics at all levels,” she says.

Patient Testimonials

Dr. Akoma kept my fears down throughout all the complications of my pregnancy. It was refreshing how she personalized my care. I really felt she had a vested interest in my twins and me. What a wonderful bedside manner she has.” – Facia G., Arlington.

“After my first baby was stillborn, I came here for high-risk pregnancy care. I would never have gotten through my pregnancy without Dr. Orzechowski. She addressed my every concern and made it a point to spend a lot of time with me. My doctors were my doctors—and my cheerleaders.” – Christine Stabler, Arlington.

(L-R): Kelly Orzechowski, MD, FACOG and Ugochi Akoma, MD, FACOG

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