Amniocentesis is an invasive procedure which helps in the detection of prenatal diagnosis of genetic or chromosomal abnormalities and certain fetal infection. It is performed only when necessary information cannot be obtained by other non-invasive procedures like ultrasound scanning.
It helps to determine whether to continue with the pregnancy or not and also helps to determine whether there is a need to deliver early to prevent complications.
When it should be done?
- It should be done between 15th- 20th week of pregnancy.
In which condition should it be performed?
- When there is previous child with chromosomal abnormalities.
- If age of pregnant women is above 35 year.
- If ultrasound detects unexpected abnormalities in the fetus.
- If the baby has been exposed to some types of infections.
- To detect an inborn error of metabolism.
- To detect genetic disorders.
How is it performed?
You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.
Generally, there is no special restriction on diet or activity prior to an amniocentesis.
An amniocentesis may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.
- Your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate) will be checked.
- An ultrasound will be performed to check the fetal heart rate, the position of the placenta, fetus, and umbilical cord, and to locate a pocket of amniotic fluid.
- Your abdomen will be cleansed with an antiseptic. You will be instructed not to touch the sterile area on your abdomen during the procedure.
- You will feel a needle stick if a local anesthetic is injected. This may cause a brief stinging sensation.
- Ultrasound will be used to help guide a long, thin, hollow needle through your abdomen, into the uterus and the amniotic sac. This may be slightly painful. You may feel some cramping as the needle enters the uterus.
- The doctor will withdraw a small amount of amniotic fluid into a syringe.
- The fluid will be placed into a special light-protected container.
- The needle will be removed.
- An adhesive bandage will be placed over the needle site.
- The fetus’ heart rate and your vital signs will be reassessed.
- The amniotic fluid will be sent to the lab for examination.
After the procedure.
You and your fetus will be monitored for some time after the procedure. Your vital signs and the fetal heart rate will be checked periodically for an hour or longer.
Though complications are rare, still Amniocentesis may cause:
- Infection in the uterus
- Severe Immune reaction of the mother.
- Preterm delivery
- Spotting or leaking of amniotic fluid
- Fetal injury
This is a procedure which is conducted under specialist guidance in hospital. Please discuss with your doctor regarding any queries.