What is Amniocentesis?

The amniocentesis (“amnio,” which is short) is an early-term medical test involving a small needle introduced through the abdomen through your uterus to drain the small amount of amniotic fluid from the fluid that the baby is sitting in.

“It’s an easy procedure that requires only about a minute or so to complete,” says Ken Lim, director of the division for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. The procedure is performed by a doctor that specializes in the field of maternal-fetal medicine.

According to Lim, the doctor takes a small amount, usually around 2 to 3 tablespoons, equivalent to 30 to 40 cubic centimeters. To put this in perspective, the total quantity of amniotic fluid found in the uterus can range from 250 to 500 cubic centimeters, and it differs based on the stage of the course of your pregnancy. The fluid replenishes itself after a few hours, Lim explains. Lim.

The amniotic fluid could provide doctors with information on your child’s genetics since it has cells that are representative of your infant. Once the sample has been taken, the fluid is taken to a laboratory.

It is analyzed to identify genetic disorders like Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis or even incidentally for congenital disabilities, such as Spina Bifida (which is usually detected through ultrasound nowadays).

What is amniotic fluid?

In pregnancy, the unborn child grows within the amniotic sac. Many people refer to amniotic fluid as the “bag of water.” This is because the amniotic fluid surrounds and shields your baby in your amniotic sac.

Amniotic fluid is a bit like water. The fluid also has a portion of the cells of your baby’s. They shed the cells they have as they grow. These cells can provide genetic information and other data that may provide clues to the health of your baby before birth.

When can amniocentesis be performed?

Amniocentesis is the most reliable method for identifying many genetic diseases that could help determine the health of your baby; however, because it carries risks of complications, it’s only performed in a small number of cases, according to Lim.

For example, your doctor might suggest this test for prenatal purposes due to an abnormal ultrasound during the first trimester. It could also be in the case of abnormal blood test results or an ancestor’s history of congenital disabilities.

As a result, the third trimester of amniocentesis may be less frequent. However, it can be performed, for instance, to detect the presence of uterine infection or to conduct genetic tests if the birth defect is detected later.

What are the dangers of amniocentesis?

The primary concern with amniocentesis is miscarriage because the needle punctures your uterus, leaving a small hole that could rupture, not heal, or result in amniotic fluid leakage. In addition, the uterine infection can result in miscarriage. In rare instances, the needle may get into proximity to the infant.

“We utilize a needle that is thin with ultrasound guidance, which means these issues are extremely rare. However, every test comes with a chance of causing harm,” says Amber Samuel, who is a subspecialist in maternal-fetal medicine.

The risk of complications reported to patients is a broad spectrum, ranging from 1 out of 100 to 1 in 1600, based on the study referenced and the note of Lim.

Which questions should I inquire about my health care provider?

If you are in need of an amniocentesis test, you might want to inquire with your doctor:

  • What are the reasons I should undergo amniocentesis?
  • What does amniocentesis really mean to my infant and me?
  • Possible risks?
  • Exactly what can I do in order to prepare for my exam?
  • When should I expect to be able to receive the test results?

Healthcare professionals perform amniocentesis tests for a variety of reasons. The majority of providers recommend amniocentesis if they believe that the benefits of testing are greater than the minimal risks that could be posed to your baby and you.

In addition, the test could provide important data about your baby’s overall health. However, you must decide for yourself whether or not an amniocentesis exam is the best option for your baby and you. There isn’t a wrong answer.

The most important thing you can consider before getting an amniocentesis?

Every patient’s decision is personal. However, it is possible to consider:

  • The chance of passing the disease in your family to your child.
  • Age. You’re more likely to have a child with birth defects as you age.
  • You must be aware of any issues with your child.
  • What to do in the event of an issue.

How much you can spend the money for. Amniocentesis is expensive. The majority of insurance companies will pay expenses associated with this test if you are suffering from specific risk factors that can increase the chances of your baby developing a serious health issue. A risk factor is anything like your age or family history that increases the risk of developing some health issue.

How can I get ready for my amniocentesis?

Follow any advice the doctor or nurse provides you. Try to check with your healthcare provider to ensure that he can provide a full and precise list of the medications you are taking and any allergies you suffer from.

Your healthcare provider might ask whether you have a blood sport that is Rh positive or negative. If necessary, your doctor will take measures to guard against any potential problems.

Your doctor may advise you to drink plenty of water or use the bathroom before your test. In the event of your test, having an empty or full bladder may aid the providers in safely conducting the test.

Do you feel that amniocentesis is painful?

“I refer to it as a stinging on the skin, and very painful cramps in the uterus as the needle passes through the uterus,” claims Samuel, who had an amniocentesis surgery performed for all three of her pregnancy.

“The uterus responds to everything exactly the same way, which is to contract or contract, and that’s the reason it hurts.”

This is why there’s nothing that can ease the discomfort. Some doctors will offer injectable medication that helps to numb the skin. However, Samuel states that this could be more painful than the amino needle.

Everyone has a unique threshold for pain; she says many people get excited about the thought of having it done, and then after it’s done, tell her it’s not as bad as they believed they would be.

If you’re worried about discomfort, try applying an over-the-counter cream for numbing. The source of discomfort during the procedure comes due to the needle entering the uterus and not through the skin.

A majority of women do not have signs after the test. However, using Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an effective painkiller.

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than 24 hours or become serious, it is recommended to consult an expert. “Post-treatment, we suggest to take it easy for 24 hours, and avoid lifting heavy or intense physical activity,” Lim says. Lim.

How long will it take to get my results?

The time required to get the results you have received will depend on the type of tests your lab is required to perform in the fluid in your amniotic sac. It is possible to receive information from your physician three or four days following the test. However, certain test results could be delayed for two weeks or more.

Expect a phone call from an expert genetic counselor. The expert will go over your results and assist you in understanding what they have to do with you and your child.

Amniocentesis Vs. CVS

The Chorionic villus Sample (or CVS) is a similar screening test for prenatal diagnosis as amniocentesis, which will detect birth defects as well as genetic diseases. However, there are some distinct distinctions.

First CVS is conducted before pregnancy, typically between 11-14 weeks of gestation. According to Samuel, as opposed to removing amniocytes from the fluid, they collect a sample from the placenta for analysis.

CVS is possible in two ways: by either putting a needle into your abdomen (like amnio) or through your Cervix. A doctor would need to examine the stomach because of the position in the area of your placenta.

In terms of dangers, a study from 2019 revealed that CVS is at risk similar to amniocentesis. “The danger associated with the loss of a baby is similar if you account for the fact that women are much more likely to suffer miscarriages earlier than later,” Samuel says. Samuel.

The likelihood of getting CVS or amniocentesis is contingent on the stage of your pregnancy. In Canada, however, CVS is only performed at one or two centers for each province due to the specialized expertise and resources required. Amniocentesis is more prevalent.

The bottom line is: Amniocentesis can provide useful information to a pregnant woman. However, like all medical tests, there are risks. It’s crucial to discuss the benefits and risks to both you and your child with your child physician. Having one is an individual choice with no either or neither.

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