Amniocentesis: How necessary is it?


pregnant woman in garden

When the doctor recommends amniocentesis, a big dilemma is formed in the minds of pregnant women.


Most of us know the word amniocentesis, but not the procedure required, the risks but also the precautions that a woman needs to take, who will decide to undergo this procedure. As more and more women today decide to become older mothers, they are faced with this issue.



What is amniocentesis?

Amniocentesis is an invasive test that is performed before birth. Until recently, it was said that women over the age of 35 should undergo amniocentesis in order for parents to be informed, with a high success rate, of the presence or absence of Down syndrome, but also of other genetic abnormalities. The risk of this genetic disease increases as the woman gets older. At age 35, the risk is about one in every 200 pregnancies, while at age 40, the risk is at least one in every 50 to 100 pregnancies.


How is amniocentesis performed?

Amniocentesis is usually performed between the 14th and 26th week, when the fetus is surrounded by a sufficient amount of amniotic fluid. With the help of ultrasound, the doctor will locate a spot in the amniotic fluid where there is no risk of injury to the fetus and placenta. It then inserts a syringe into the amniotic sac through the abdomen and extracts 10 to 20 milliliters of fluid, which contains embryonic cells and other elements. These cells are sent for culture. The test, no matter how "scary" it may sound, is not painful for the expectant mother.The results of this test give useful information about the fetus and the course of its health. The test results are not given immediately. You usually need to wait 2 weeks for them to find out about the findings.


When is amniocentesis necessary?

Amniocentesis is considered a necessary examination when the following reasons occur:

  • when the mother is, as they say, at an "advanced" age.
  • when there are signs of cervical transparency, measurement of the nasal bone & biochemical markers, which need further investigation.
  • When ultrasound is detected, anatomical abnormalities in the fetus, such as congenital heart disease, may be associated with problems in the fetal karyotype.
  • when there is a history of a rare metabolic disease. In other words, future parents may have already had another child with the above problems.
  • when the expectant mother was slow to have a trophoblast test to determine if the fetus was suffering from Mediterranean anemia or if the answer to that first test was not clear.
  • when the expectant mother has, according to special tests performed at the beginning of pregnancy, antibodies to a recent infection with rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis or syphilis. Amniocentesis is investigated although the fetus suffers from the same infection.
  • Finally, in special cases, amniocentesis can be performed in the context of some therapeutic purposes, when, for example, twins need to undergo embryo-embryonic transplantation.


How Safe is Amniocentesis Surgery?

As with any procedure, there are complications. The risk of miscarriage after the test is 1 to 200, while the rate of miscarriage increases if the test is done before the 14th week.

After an amniocentesis, there is a risk of rupture of the fetal membranes and therefore the risk of miscarriage. This risk is considered small and the likelihood of a future mother expelling does not increase if, in a previous amniocentesis, she had a complication.

It is absolutely necessary to mention that there are some predisposing factors that increase this possibility, such as:

  • the presence of fibroids.
  • bleeding at the beginning of a pregnancy.
  • If there is a history of miscarriage, miscarriage, abortion, etc.


What to watch out for after an amniocentesis.

After the operation, the doctors recommend staying at home & gentle activity without fatigue, in order to reduce the possibility of miscarriage. After three days, you gradually return to your normal activities, always with the consent of the gynecologist who monitors you. Sexual intercourse is allowed after 15 days, after consultation with your doctor. Some doctors recommend taking antibiotics, others do not, and in case of pain, you can take some muscle relaxants or paracetamol. If your blood type is Rhesus negative, a special preventive injection should be given, which will be recommended by your gynecologist.


In any case, the doctor who is taking care of you is responsible to inform and guide you appropriately.

happy baby