Amniocentesis: Purpose, Test, Risks, Procedure

When you are pregnant, you should undergo many tests and your gynaecologist plays an important role. So, discuss all or any concerns and ask them your queries. Amniocentesis is one of the important topics of pregnancy.

Your fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid, seems like water. Amniotic fluid contains fetus cells and other elements like alpha-fetoprotein. These elements help to know about the health of a fetus before birth.

What is amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is a process in which a small sample of amniotic fluid is taken out through a fine needle inserted into the uterus under ultrasound guidance. Amniotic fluid contains cells of the baby that helps to detect some type of birth defects. The common test done on an amniocentesis sample is a chromosome test. Other tests are for infections or other genetic problem. your sample can be sent in the laboratory for assessment of fetal lung maturity, genetic problem, a birth defect in the spinal cord or neural tube defect, any type of infection, or chromosome analysis. It takes about 15 days to perform chromosome analysis.

Need to perform amniocentesis

Before the process of amniocentesis, a complete thoroughly ultrasound will be done. Amniocentesis is performed to observe birth defects, such as Down syndrome or chromosomal abnormality. There is a small risk for you and your fetus from amniocentesis, the prenatal test is suggested by the gynaecologist to the expected mother with a genetic problem, including those who have-

  •  Problem in ultrasound
  • Family history of birth defects
  • Previously had a child with a birth defect
  • An abnormal genetic test in an existing pregnancy

Amniocentesis does not detect all birth defects, but it can be used to detect Down syndrome, neural tube, spine development.

Risks of amniocentesis

Normally Amniocentesis is considered as a very safe process. But the main risk associate with amniocentesis is miscarriage and the chances of miscarriage are less than 1%. The reason for Miscarriage is water breaking, infection in the uterus labour pain early. It is rarely possible that the needle comes in contact with the baby. This procedure is performed by using ultrasound to guide the needle away from the fetus.

Procedure of amniocentesis

First, your abdomen will be cleaned by using an antiseptic solution to reduce the risk of infection. You are instructed not to touch the sterile area during the procedure. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be examined. Then, a long, thin needle is inserted in your abdominal wall which may cause Sharp hurtful sensation. The needle is passed into the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus with the help of an ultrasound image. Take a small sample of the amniotic fluid through a syringe and a band-aid is placed over the area where the needle is applied. The sample of amniotic fluid is then to the laboratory for testing.

How painful amniocentesis is?

The procedure of amniocentesis is not generally painful, but you may feel uncomfortable to some extent. Some mothers told about the pain that it is similar to period pain or feel pressure when the needle is taken out of the abdominal.

After amniocentesis

After amniocentesis procedure has been done, you and your fetus will be monitored for a time. Your energy level and fetal heart rate will be checked regularly for longer.

It is normal to have felt some cramping during or after the amniocentesis procedure and light vaginal spotting for a few hours. You may suggest resting on your left side.

After the procedure, rest at home and avoid heavy activities for at least 24 hours.

Consult your doctor if you feel these problems

  • Severe pain and cramping
  • Feels Fever or chills
  • Abdominal pain where needle is applied
  • Vaginal bleeding or fluid leaking from the vagina
  • Changes in fetus movement
  • Anxieties
  • Contractions

After two weeks of amniocentesis procedure, you will receive the report. Most expected mother’s result is normal but if there is any problem in the report your gynaecologist will suggest you the solution and organize any special care you and your fetus need.

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