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Amniocentesis is a diagnostic test done during a woman’s pregnancy in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus with a needle and assessed to determine whether the unborn baby could develop an abnormality or serious health condition. 

Amniocentesis is recommended for pregnancies during which there is an increased risk of an abnormality. Some of those risks include:

  • Mother's age. There is an increased risk of birth defects for women 35 years of age or older.
  • Mother's medical history. Previous pregnancies with a history of birth defects or other genetic conditions may merit amniocentesis.
  • Family history of inherited genetic conditions. Conditions such as cystic fibrosis, fragile X syndrome, sickle cell disease, Tay-Sachs or thalassemia may be diagnosed through amniocentesis.

During amniocentesis, ultrasound is used to locate the baby and the placenta and ensure proper positioning before the provider inserts a small needle into the uterus. The provider uses the needle to remove a small amount of amniotic fluid (less than 1 ounce). The amniotic fluid contains cells, which are analyzed and used to provide information about the health of the baby and determine potential issues. 

Serious complications from the procedure are rare. Most women have only mild discomfort, though some feel a stinging feeling when the needle enters the skin, feel cramping when the needle enters the uterus or feel pressure when the fluid is removed. After the test, the provider may recommend rest after the procedure and not to exercise or have intercourse for a day or two.

Specialized Care for At-Risk Patients

Temple offers specialized care for high risk or at risk patients. Our  high-risk pregnancy team includes maternal-fetal medicine specialists, ultrasonographers and genetic counselors. In addition to amniocentesis we perform chorionic villus sampling, which can be done earlier in the gestation than amniocentesis, and we offer non-invasive genetic testing and counseling. Temple Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences excels in its high-risk obstetrical care capability. 

Our multidisciplinary team of specialists at Temple Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences collaborate to specifically manage all conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth as well as a woman’s gynecological health. Our understanding of complex problems helps patients receive the most appropriate and latest treatments.

Ready for an Appointment?

Find a doctor near you, request an appointment, or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.