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Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby during pregnancy. Amniocentesis is the removal of a small amount of this fluid for testing.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Amniocentesis is most often done to see if there is an abnormality in your baby's genes (DNA). It can also be done to see if your baby is developing correctly. Later in pregnancy, it can be done to determine the maturity of your baby's lungs.
Factors that indicate that you may need this procedure include:
Depending on your risk factors, cells in the amniotic fluid are tested for:
Amniocentesis may also be done:
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase your risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect TOP
You may be given a local anesthesia. This numbs a small area in the abdomen where the needle will be placed.
Description of the Procedure
First, an ultrasound will be done. This will help to choose a safe spot to insert the needle. Your abdomen will be cleaned. Next, a very thin needle will be inserted through your abdomen into your uterus. A few teaspoons of amniotic fluid will be removed. After the needle is removed, the doctor will make sure that your baby's heartbeat is normal. In most cases, an ultrasound will be used throughout the procedure.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
About 45 minutes
Will It Hurt? TOP
You may feel cramping when the needle enters your abdomen. You may also feel pressure when the fluid is withdrawn.
Post-procedure Care TOP
A test showing a healthy baby is ideal, but you will need to be prepared if the results show otherwise. If there is a genetic or anatomic disorder, further counseling can be helpful. Your doctor can help you understand the pros and cons of having this test. Your doctor will work with you on options that are best for you after you know the results.
Call Your Doctor TOP
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Pregnancy Association
Canadian Women's Health Network
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 2015. Accessed March 14, 2015.
Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated April 4, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2016.
Later childbearing. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 2015. Accessed March 14, 2016.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated June 22, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2016.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Invasive Prenatal Testing for Aneuploidy, Practice Bulletin No. 88, December 2007; Reaffirmed 2014.
Zolator AJ, et al. Update on prenatal care. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Feb1;89 (3): 199-208.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 4/29/2014
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