Pregnancy Complication Tests: Learn the Amniocentesis Risks

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What is Amniocentesis?

An amniocentesis is a medical procedure to detect certain chromosome abnormalities that may be present in a fetus. This procedure removes amniotic fluid from the amniotic sac to test for any complications. In order to conduct this procedure, a long needle is inserted into the abdomen to remove the fluid for evaluation. An anesthetic may be given to numb the pain but is not medically necessary. This procedure is considered to be relatively pain free. To guide the needle as it is inserted, an ultrasound is usually conducted at the same time. The amount of fluid removed can very depending on what tests need to be done and the age of the fetus.

What Does an Amniocentesis Detect?

An amniocentesis can detect a number of health complications a fetus may have. This procedure can determine the lung development of a fetus. It can provide a genetic evaluation. The procedure can detect whether or not a fetus may have spina bifida. An amniocentesis can detect infections that may be present. Chromosome analysis’s can also be done using this procedure.

Risks of an Amniocentesis

Although an amniocentesis procedure can be very beneficial there are risks that can arise. Amniocentesis risks are rare and are usually considered to be a very safe procedure. There is a less than 1 percent risk of a fetal fatality occurring. Because there is a risk of fetal loss from this procedure, amniocenteses are only recommended when the outcome of the test is greater than if the test does not occur. Amniocentesis risks also include false or inaccurate readings of the test results, however this is extremely rare.

Another risk of this procedure can be vaginal cramping, bleeding, and fluid loss. These symptoms usually do not cause serious complications and resolve by themselves over time with proper rest. Rarely, the fetus may be pricked with the needle used for the procedure. This is why ultrasounds are normally conducted to help guide the needle. If this occurs, complications with the fetus are rare. All risks of an amniocentesis test have a less than 1 percent chance of occurring. It is important to way the risks and benefits of the procedure with a health professional before undergoing the medical procedure.

References:

“Amniocentesis” October 17, 2008 MayoClinic.com