by Editorial Staff and Contributors
Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby during pregnancy. Amniocentesis is the removal of a small amount of this fluid for testing.
Reasons for Procedure
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.
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
Complications that may occur with an amniocentesis include:
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
Your doctor may give you local anesthesia. This numbs a small area in the abdomen where the needle will be placed.
Description of the Procedure
This is usually done when you are 16 weeks pregnant. It is done later in the pregnancy when checking your baby's lung maturity.
First, your doctor will do an ultrasound. This will help to choose a safe spot to insert the needle. Your abdomen will be cleaned. Next, the doctor will insert a very thin needle through your abdomen into your uterus. A few teaspoons of amniotic fluid will be taken out. 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?
About 45 minutes.
Will It Hurt?
You may feel cramping when the needle enters your abdomen. You may also feel pressure when the fluid is withdrawn.
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
A test showing a healthy baby is ideal. But, you will need to be prepared if the results show otherwise. If the test shows that your baby may have a genetic disorder, you may need to make tough decisions regarding your pregnancy. If you do continue with the pregnancy, then you will need to address your child's special needs. Your doctor can help you understand the pros and cons of having this test. He or she will work with you on options that are best for you once you know the results.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if you have:
In case of 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
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Invasive Prenatal Testing for Aneuploidy, Practice Bulletin No. 88, December 2007; Reaffirmed 2009.
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/cvs.html . Updated April 2006. Accessed October 2, 2012.
Later childbearing. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.or... . Accessed October 2, 2012.
Screening and monitoring during pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed.ebscohost.com/ . Updated September 14, 2012. Accessed October 2, 2012.
Last reviewed October 2012 by Andrea Chisholm
Last Updated: 3/18/2013