Decision Assist

Amniocentesis

Introduction

The purpose of this tool is to help you decide whether or not to have an amniocentesis. When making a decision like this, you must balance:

This tool is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Work with your doctor to help you make this decision. A second opinion from another doctor may be valuable. There is usually no exact “right” or “wrong” answer.

Your physician may make certain recommendations to you. However, the final decision about whether to have this test rests with you.

What is the test?

Amniocentesis is a diagnostic procedure performed by inserting a hollow needle through the abdominal wall into the uterus and withdrawing a small amount of fluid from the sac surrounding the fetus.

Amniocentesis

The test can detect chromosomal disorders (such as Down syndrome), structural defects (such as spina bifida -- an open spine, where the vertebrae fail to close), anencephaly (a condition in which the brain is incomplete or missing), and many rare, inherited metabolic disorders.

Later on in a pregnancy, the test may be help a doctor identify suspected problems, such as Rh incompatibility or infection.

Late in the pregnancy, the test can determine lung maturity.

Amniocentesis
Click the icon to see an illustrated series detailing amniocentesis.

Key points

How much time this decision tool will take

What this tool will provide


Review Date: 9/12/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

References:
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. Invasive prental testing for aneuploidy. ACOG Practice Bulletin, Number 88. Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Dec;110(6):1459-67.
  • Towner D, Currier RJ, Lorey FW, Cunningham GC, Greve LC. Miscarriage risk from amniocentesis performed for abnormal maternal serum screening. AM J Obstet Gynecol. June 1, 2007;196(6):608.e1-5;discussion.
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