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Fetal Imaging

Amniocentesis

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This is a tool that is used to rule out chromosomal and genetic birth defects. Often used in the second trimester of pregnancy to determine if there are any defects in the fetus. This test is most commonly used for women over 35, a previous child or pregnancy with a birth defect or defect in the family history and suggestive screening test results.
Preparation
If you’re having amniocentesis done before week 20 of pregnancy, your bladder must be full during the procedure. Drink plenty of fluids before your appointment. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, your bladder must be empty during amniocentesis.

Your doctor might ask you to sign a consent form before the procedure begins. Consider asking someone to accompany you to the appointment for emotional support or to drive you home afterward.

Procedure
First, your doctor will use ultrasound to determine the baby’s exact location in your uterus. You’ll lie on your back on an exam table and expose your abdomen. Your doctor will apply a special gel to your abdomen and then use an ultrasound transducer to show your baby’s position on a monitor.

Next, the doctor will clean your abdomen with an antiseptic. Generally, anesthetic isn’t used. Most women report only mild discomfort during the procedure.

Guided by ultrasound, your doctor will insert a thin, hollow needle through your abdominal wall and into the uterus. A small amount of amniotic fluid will be withdrawn into a syringe, and the needle will be removed. The specific amount of amniotic fluid withdrawn depends on the number of weeks the pregnancy has progressed.

You’ll need to lie still while the needle is inserted and the amniotic fluid is withdrawn. You might notice a stinging sensation when the needle enters your skin, and you might feel cramping when the needle enters your uterus. The procedure usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

After the procedure

After the amniocentesis, your doctor might use ultrasound to monitor your baby’s heart rate. You might experience cramping or a small amount of vaginal bleeding immediately after the amniocentesis. Avoid strenuous physical activity for a day or two.

Meanwhile, the sample of amniotic fluid will be analyzed in a lab. Some results might be available within a few days. Other results might take up to four weeks.