Valuable information about fetal health can be obtained through amniotic fluid testing. An amniocentesis test is used to check for birth defects or infection and to help the doctor make a definitive diagnosis about the fetus. In an amniocentesis test, the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus is examined. This fluid contains embryonic cells and other substances such as alpha photoproteins (AFP). Join us to learn more about this experiment, why it is done, and the information it provides.
What is an amniocentesis test?
In an amniocentesis test, the doctor removes a small amount of amniotic fluid from the uterus. The amount of liquid removed is less than 30 grams. This fluid, which surrounds the fetus, contains some fetal cells and can be used to diagnose genetic disorders.
This type of amniocentesis is performed in the second trimester of pregnancy, usually at 16 to 20 weeks of gestation. Also, a type of amniocentesis performed late in pregnancy can determine if the fetus’s lungs are capable of breathing outside the uterus.
The doctor inserts a long, narrow needle into the uterus and uses ultrasound to make sure the needle is inserted. Laboratory staff use amniotic fluid to diagnose genetic disorders such as Down syndrome, spinal cord and cystic fibrosis.
The result of this test helps a person decide about their pregnancy. In the third trimester, an amniocentesis test is used to determine the growth and maturity of the fetus. This test is also used to diagnose the need for preterm delivery.
Who is recommended for an amniocentesis test?
- One of the most common reasons for recommending amniocentesis is the abnormal results of fetal screening. By performing this test, the physician confirms or denies the existence of abnormalities identified in the screening test.
- If a person has ever given birth to a child with birth defects or severe brain or spinal cord disorders, he or she can be tested for amniocentesis to see if the fetus also has these disorders.
- If the mother is over 35, the risk of chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome increases. Amniocentesis can check for these disorders.
- If the father of the fetus has a genetic condition such as cystic fibrosis, amniocentesis will check for the disease in the fetus.
- Some pregnancy complications may require premature labor. Pre-pregnancy amniocentesis determines whether the fetus’s lungs have developed enough and the fetus can survive outside the uterus.
- If the doctor thinks that the fetus may have anemia or infection, or that the mother has a uterine infection, he or she may recommend an amniocentesis test.
- If necessary, this test can be used to reduce the volume of amniotic fluid in the uterus.
- The most accurate way to determine the sex of the fetus is to use amniotic fluid.
- Amniocentesis can show some defects in the nervous system that are related to inadequate growth of the brain and spinal cord, such as a spinal cord or anencephaly (a congenital defect of the scalp and missing part of the brain).
How is an amniocentesis test performed?
This is an outpatient test and does not require hospitalization. The doctor first performs an ultrasound once to determine the exact position of the fetus in the uterus. Ultrasound is a safe way to see the fetus that uses high-frequency sound waves. The bladder should be full for the ultrasound, so you should drink plenty of water before the test.
The safe location of the needle is determined by the ultrasound result. After the ultrasound, the doctor anesthetizes part of the abdomen using anesthetics, then the doctor inserts a small needle into the uterus to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid. This part of the test usually takes 2 minutes.
The result of amniotic fluid genetic tests is ready after 2 weeks. If the test is done to determine the growth of the fetal lung, the result will be ready in a few hours.
In twin fetuses, if each has a separate amniotic sac, both are sampled. Amniocentesis of twins is usually more difficult than singles, so it is best to see a more experienced doctor.
Is it possible to resume normal activities after the test?
After the amniocentesis test, it is best to go home and rest for the rest of the day. After the test, the following are prohibited:
- Heavy activities;
- Lifting heavy objects;
- Have sex.
After amniocentesis, you may feel a slight pain such as menstrual cramps that may continue for several hours after the test. In case of pain, you can take 2 acetaminophen tablets every 4 hours. The day after the test, you can continue your activities unless your doctor tells you to.
Possible risks of amniocentesis testing
This test is done in the second trimester of pregnancy, and although it can have side effects, it is very rare to experience severe side effects. If the test is done between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is a 0.3% risk of miscarriage. If the test is done before the 15th week of pregnancy, the risk is somewhat higher.
Common complications of an amniocentesis test include:
- Abdominal cramps;
- Partial bleeding from the vagina.
Complications that people rarely experience:
- Leakage of amniotic fluid out of the body;
- Uterine infection.
Amniocentesis can also transmit infections such as hepatitis C and AIDS to the fetus.
In rare cases, a small amount of fetal blood cells may enter the mother’s bloodstream. If the positive or negative blood type of the mother and fetus is different, the mother’s body may react to the fetus’s blood. In this case, your doctor will prescribe a drug called Rugam, which blocks the production of antibodies against fetal blood cells.
See your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge;
- Severe abdominal pain.
Interpretation of amniocentesis test results
This test is 99.4% accurate, and if the result is normal, it means that your child is more likely to have no genetic or chromosomal abnormalities. If the test is done to check the development of the fetus, the normal result is that the baby is ready to be born and has a good chance of survival.
Abnormal test results indicate that the fetus may have a genetic or chromosomal abnormality. Of course, this is not certain and requires further testing. Be sure to consult your doctor if you have trouble understanding the test result. Your doctor can also advise you on the next steps.
What happens after receiving an amniocentesis test result?
If a complication is seen in the test, you should discuss the options with your counselor. Doctors can treat some birth defects, such as a spinal cord, while the fetus is still in the womb.
By realizing the problems of the fetus, the mother is more cared for and examined during pregnancy and also helps to increase the doctor’s readiness.
Amniocentesis test cost
The cost of this test depends on the laboratory, the instruments used and the type of test. These costs are covered by some insurances. To perform an amniocentesis test, you must pay for the necessary instruments for sampling, amniotic fluid sampling, and testing for this fluid. This amount is approximately 1 million and 500 thousand tomans to 2 million tomans.
Not all parents need to have an amniocentesis test, but knowing the benefits of this test can help you make an informed decision. An amniocentesis test will help ensure the health of your fetus and take timely action if there are any complications. We suggest that you explore the benefits and risks of this test for yourself and your child and make the right decision with this information.
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