Amniocentesis - Turkishdoc IVF Center


Amniocentesis is a prenatal diagnostic test where tissue samples from the amniotic fluid are tested for genetic conditions, like Down’s syndrome and neural tube anomalies, and other health issues. It is performed between the 15 th to 20th weeks of pregnancy.

Prenatal diagnostic testing is important because it gives an estimate of how likely it is that an unborn child will have a particular inherited disease. Although it is not always recommended, it could be a life saver especially if the family is known to be a carrier of an inherited disease, like thalassemia.

There are two types of prenatal diagnostic testing; chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis. Chorionic villus sampling is advantageous because it is performed 3 to 4 weeks earlier than amniocentesis, however it doesn’t include neural tube anomalies, like spina bifida.

What is Amniotic Fluid?

Developing fetus lies in the womb, called an amniotic sac. There is a dense liquid, called amniotic fluid that protects the developing fetus inside the amniotic sac. Additionally, it has a small number of cells that belong to the fetus. This fluid has the same genetic material as the fetus. This means that one can examine the genetic material of the fetus by taking samples from amniotic fluid.

When is Amniocentesis offered?

Amniocentesis is not routinely offered in every pregnancy. It is offered when;

  • antenatal screening tests suggest a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down’s syndrome, Patau’s syndrome,
  • neural tube defects are suspected,
  • CVS failed, and CVS is not an option anymore,
  • there is a previous pregnancy with a genetic or chromosomal defect
  • parents have or are a carrier of a known genetic disorder, such as cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy,
  • eggs are fertilized or pregnancy has occurred naturally after maternal age, which is 35,
  • ultrasound findings are unusual.

Amniocentesis can also be offered in the 3 rd trimester of the pregnancy to control;

  • baby’s lung if preterm birth is expected,
  • infection in the urinary tract, or
  • if Rh disease is a concern.

It should be noted that amniocentesis is performed in between the 15 th and 20th months of pregnancy, therefore you will have less time to consider the future of your pregnancy after you get your results. So, it is sometimes offered after chorionic villus sampling fails.

How is Amniocentesis performed?

First, an ultrasound will be used to find out where the baby is so that the amniotic fluid can be put in the right place. Under ultrasound guidance, a thin, hollow needle will then be passed through the abdominal wall and into the uterus. Finally, a small amount of amniotic fluid is drawn into the syringe, and the needle is pulled back.

You might feel slight cramps while the needle is inserted. Anesthetic is not usually applied for amniocentesis procedure. While the consultation itself may take up to 30 minutes, the actual operation only takes about 10.

Results of Amniocentesis

The fluid is sent to the lab so it can be looked at. Within a few hours, the initial fetal lung maturation test results will be available.  The results for chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome, or Patau’s syndrome should be ready within 3 to 4 working days depending on the lab. It may take up to three weeks for findings to return for the results of rare conditions.

Risks of Amniocentesis

There are several risks associated with amniocentesis. These risks include:

Miscarriage: According to the NHS, 1 out of every 200 pregnancies may end up with  miscarriage after CVS.
Re-test order: NHS also states that 1 out of 100 samples may end up inconclusive after the test is done. This could be due to sample inadequacy, contamination, pre or post analytical errors, or there might be, simply, not enough cells in the sample to get a result. In that case, your doctor will order the test again, but you can also discuss your options with your doctor.

Infection: Infection is a possibility for every surgical procedure, but it is quite rare to get an infection because of amniocentesis.

Rh sensitization: CVS could result in some of the baby’s blood cells being introduced into your bloodstream. And if you’re Rh- and your baby is Rh+, you will develop antibodies against your baby’s blood, which will eventually attack the red blood cells of the baby.
If this is the case, you will receive an injection of a blood product known as Rh immune globulin after amniocentesis. This will prevent your body from developing Rh antibodies, which if they are allowed to pass through the placenta, can cause damage to the baby.
Bleeding or leaking of amniotic fluid: Amniotic fluid may leak from the vagina for a short period of time, or slight bleeding in the needle site may occur. This doesn’t pose a threat to the baby.

Club Foot: Several studies reported that early amniocentesis (EA), before the 15th week of pregnancy, has been linked to a higher chance that the baby will be born with club foot disorder.

An alternative to Amniocentesis: Chorionic Villus Sampling

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is another prenatal diagnostic test where tissue samples from the placenta are tested for chromosomal conditions, like Down’s syndrome and Edward syndrome as well as genetic conditions, like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.

  • It is performed a few weeks earlier than amniocentesis, between the 10 th to 12th weeks of pregnancy.
  • There is not much time to decide for the future of the pregnancy when the results of amniocentesis come back. CVS, on the other hand, allows you to take your time since it is performed a few weeks earlier.
  • Amniocentesis offers the diagnosis of neural tube defects, which is not included in the CVS panel.
  • There is also a risk for miscarriage in CVS as is for amniocentesis.

Prenatal diagnostic tests offer great information especially if you’re suspected of having a child with a chromosomal or genetic abnormality. However, it is a complicated process that needs to be carefully considered with your doctor. Your doctor will inform you with the best option suitable for your case.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is IVF?

IVF treatment (in vitro fertilization) was first successfully applied in England in 1978.

Factors that cause infertility (infertility) in women;

  • Ticking of the egg ducts (fallopian tubes)
  • Uterine (uterine) and congenital abnormalities
  • Benign uterine urlar (fibroids)
  • Intrauterine adhesions (uterine sineuses)

Factors that cause infertility (infertility) in men;

  • Low sperm count
  • Slowness in sperm movement
  • Disfigurement or inability to see sperm cells

According to statistics, more than 4 million children were born by IVF method all over the world.

IVF treatment has been a great gateway to hope for couples who cannot have children by natural means thanks to technology, improved laboratory facilities and research that have advanced in the last 30 years.

What are the factors affecting the success rate of IVF?

In vitro fertilization is one of the factors affecting the rate of success, especially:

  • The age of the patient
  • Type of infertility diagnosis
  • Duration of infertility
  • Hospital / doctor experience / expertise
  • Number of embryos transferred
  • Type of IVF performed: stimulated or natural cycle IVF

For women younger than 34, most will achieve pregnancy within 1 to 3 treatment cycles; indeed, many are successful on their first attempt.

Success rates for women over 35 tend to decrease as aging affects the quality of these women’s eggs.

For a detailed discussion about IVF success rates, couples should visit the website for the clinic where they are considering treatment. They should also discuss specific fertility possibilities with reproductive endocrinologists.

IVF pregnancy rates vary by clinic, so patients should carefully examine their chances of success in the treatment of specific clinical practice.

How is IVF performed?

At the beginning of the IVF process, the ovaries are stimulated with special drugs so that a large number of egg cells can be obtained from the woman.

This process varies from patient to patient.

Drugs are used for 15-20 days. After the ovaries become suitable with ultrasound and hormones with a blood test, egg collection is performed. Eggs are collected through the vaginal route with the help of ultrasound.

On the same day, sperm is taken from the man and a normal IVF or microinjection process is performed in the laboratory for the process of fertilization.

The fertilized egg, which becomes an Embryo, is transferred to the woman after two to five days.

What is infertility?

Infertility refers to the inability to conceive after having regular unprotected sex. Infertility refers to an individual’s biological incapacity to contribute to conception, or to a woman who is unable to carry her pregnancy to full maturity.

Infertility in many countries means a couple who cannot conceive after 12 months of regular sexual intercourse without using contraception.

Research shows that most cases of infertility are caused by more than half of women, with the rest due to sperm disorders or unidentified factors caused by men.

Most cases of apparent infertility are treatable. Infertility can have a single cause in one of the partners, or it can be the result of a combination of factors.

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For more information and support on IVF and infertility, consider reaching out to Turkishdoc and support organizations to access the guidance and resources you need on your journey.

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