Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby during pregnancy. Amniocentesis is the removal of a small amount of this fluid for testing.
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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:
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.
You may be given a local anesthesia. This numbs a small area in the abdomen where the needle will be placed.
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.
About 45 minutes
You may feel cramping when the needle enters your abdomen. You may also feel pressure when the fluid is withdrawn.
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. Your doctor will work with you on options that are best for you after you know the results.
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: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/cvs.html. Updated July 2015. Accessed March 14, 2015.
Hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 25, 2015. Accessed March 14, 2016.
Later childbearing. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing/chorionic-villus-sampling. Updated July 2015. Accessed March 14, 2016.
Routine prenatal care. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 11, 2016. Accessed March 14, 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 2016 by Marcie L. Sidman, MD Last Updated: 4/29/2014