Amniocentesis: what is it?

Amniocentesis: what is it?

AmniocentesisAmniocentesis is the most commonly performed invasive test for fetal abnormality. You will probably be offered an amniocentesis if: a) you are more than 35 years of age; b) have a personal or family history of a baby with Down’s syndrome or another chromosome abnormality; c) have had a an abnormal NTS result or a high risk serum screening result.

Amniocentesis involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid around the baby and is usually performed at 14 to 16 weeks, but can be undertaken at later stages.

The procedure is performed under ultrasound guidance and the operator inserts the amnio needle through the abdominal skin, into the uterus and aims for a pool of amniotic fluid, avoiding the placenta. A sample of fluid is aspirated into a syringe and sent to the cytogenetics laboratory where the fetal skin cells are separated from the fluid and placed in tissue culture for future analysis. The disadvantages are that results take three to four weeks to come back, by which time the woman may be 18 or 19 weeks pregnant. The advantages of amniocentesis are that the risk of miscarriage is very low and the results are rarely wrong.

Now tell us what happened to you…

Did you have an amniocentesis?

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