Amniocentesis is prenatal, invasive test that is usually conducted in the second trimester of pregnancy. The amniocentesis test is usually ordered by the patient itself to check for any birth defects in a fetus.
Most birth defects can be detected with the amniocentesis procedure, which takes a sample of the amniotic fluid and checks the cells for deformities. Curiously, amniotic fluid is also a rich source of stem cells that have gained a lot of attention in the past few years as method of therapy in many aspects of medicine. The procedure is not completely benign and amniocentesis risks include a 1 in 200 chance of infection and complication from the wound to the amniotic sac being ruptured. This is still a better result than some other tests that have a 1 in 100 chance of throwing up complications. Amniocentesis results are used to check for the possibility of a child having Down's syndrome or Turner's syndrome, as well as open neural tube defects by checking either the quality of cells in the amniotic sac or the levels of Alpha fetoprotein in the amniotic fluid in an AFP test.
An amniocentesis test is conducted to ensure that the growing fetus is not deformed in any way. The procedure needs to be done in the second trimester of pregnancy and the results are sometimes used along with the results of an ultrasound image if there are any visible defects.
The test requires little preparation from your side. Though the procedure itself is invasive and you would have to be anesthetized, there is no specific preparation that you need to do.
The procedure begins with sterilizing a part of the skin and then firing up and ultrasound machine, which will guide a long syringe into the uterus. The needle will start from the abdominal wall and move to the uterus after a local anesthetic is administered. In the uterus, the doctor will wait and check for the best site to stick the needle into the amniotic sac where the growing fetus is. Care is taken to ensure that the fetus is not disturbed or jabbed accidentally. A 20 ml sample is then taken by the syringe used and the procedure is then over. The amniotic fluid will be replaced and the wound will heal in most cases, though sometimes complications can happen. Amniocentesis cost can be quite high since it is basically a form of surgery.