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Genetic Services

Amniocentesis

Available in the 15th through 22nd week of pregnancy

Prior to electing an amniocentesis at GIVF, you will meet with a Genetic Counselor to discuss the test thoroughly. After reading the following information, write down any questions that you may have and take them to your appointment.

The most common reasons why an amniocentesis is performed:

  • Maternal age of 35 years or more at expected time of delivery
  • Abnormal first trimester or second trimester serum screening results
  • Ultrasound finding suggesting a higher risk for a chromosome abnormality
  • Previous pregnancy or family history of certain chromosomal or genetic disorders
  • Pregnancies at risk for certain genetic disease

During an amniocentesis a small amount (usually 2 tablespoons) of amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus is removed. The amniotic fluid contains cells that have been shed by the fetus during normal development. These cells may then be used for chromosome tests and/or specific genetic tests. The fluid itself is tested for the level of alpha feto-protein (AFP) or for biochemical genetic disorders, if appropriate.

Amniocentesis is typically available at GIVF from 15.5 to 22.9 weeks of pregnancy.  The amniocentesis procedure involves guiding a thin needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the amniotic sac (see figure below). Ultrasound is used to determine the location of the fetus and the best place to withdraw the fluid.  The entire procedure is done under ultrasound guidance.

Most women do not report the amniocentesis procedure to be very painful. It usually takes a minute or less to perform, and is commonly described as feeling similar to a blood draw. Some women experience mild cramping afterwards.

Because the needle must pass through the amniotic sac, there is a chance of the fluid leaking or the sac rupturing. As with all invasive procedures, there is also a chance that an infection may occur. Any of these complications may cause a miscarriage. The risk for miscarriage from an amniocentesis when performed by the highly experienced physicians at GIVF is approximately 1 in 400 (or 0.25%).  The board-certified clinicians at GIVF have provided amniocentesis testing for over 50,000 women.

If you are on blood thinning medications such as Lovenox or Fragmin, please contact a GIVF Genetic Counselor at least 2 days prior to your appointment for instructions.

To schedule an appointment, click here or call 800.552.4363 or 703.698.7355.