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What is Amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is a procedure in which amniotic fluid is removed from the sac surrounding the baby for testing or treatment. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy. This fluid contains fetal cells and various chemicals produced by the baby.

Amniocentesis can be done for various reasons.

With genetic amniocentesis, a sample of amniotic fluid is tested for certain conditions such as:

  • Down syndrome (trisomy 21)
  • Trisomy 13
  • Trisomy 18
  • Fragile X
  • Inherited single gene disorders
  • Neural tube defects (anencephaly and spina bifi da) by alphafetoprotein levels

With maturity amniocentesis, a sample of amniotic fluid is tested to determine whether the baby’s lungs are mature enough for birth.

Occasionally, amniocentesis is used to evaluate a baby for infection or other illness. Rarely, amniocentesis is used to decrease the volume of amniotic fluid.

Amniocentesis is usually preformed during the second trimester of pregnancy. Most women report only minor discomfort during the procedure. A very small (.06%) risk of miscarriage is associated with amniocentesis. The decision to undergo an amniocentesis will be made only after you have discussed the risks and benefits with our genetic counselor and physician. It takes approximately 14 days to receive test results after amniocentesis. If a fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) test is performed at the same time, these results will be available within 48-72 hours. We will contact you directly with your test results.

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