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Cordocentesis (percutaneous umbilical blood collection)

Cordocentesis (percutaneous umbilical blood collection)

Cordocentesis or percutaneous umbilical blood collection is an extremely complex and specialized prenatal test in which fetal umbilical blood is collected to be subjected to laboratory tests. The analysis is intended to detect infections and serious genetic problems in the fetus. It can be done at the age of 18 weeks or later of pregnancy.

Why is it called cordocentesis?

Cordocentesis is a test that can provide essential information about the health of the fetus, but it is not often used. Doctors use this test only when other variants fail or provide insufficient data. With her help you can find:

  • chromosomal disorders (eg Down syndrome);

  • hematological diseases (anemia, thalassemia, etc.);

  • infections;

  • deficiencies of growth or development of the fetus;

  • neural tube defects (spina bifida).

What risks does this test entail?

Unfortunately, there are several risks associated with cordocentesis, which is why it is used only as a last resort:

  • miscarriage (2% of the pregnancies that perform this procedure);

  • bleeding;

  • slowing the rhythm of the heartbeat in the fetus;

  • infections (especially uterine infection).

This test is not mandatory, but optional. It presents approximately the same risks as amniocentesis. Therefore, the last decision to make or not this procedure belongs to you. Talk to your doctor and carefully weigh the risks of doing so, as well as the risks of giving up before making a decision.

How is the test done?

  • Before 30 or 60 minutes of intervention you will be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
  • At the beginning of the procedure the doctor carefully monitors the position of the fetus with the help of the ultrasound. Guided by the images on the monitor, the doctor will insert a thin needle through the abdominal wall to enter the uterus.
  • A very small sample of blood from the veins of the umbilical cord is extracted through a syringe, and then the needle is removed.
  • It is essential to stay still during the procedure, especially when the doctor introduces and removes the needle.
  • The entire procedure takes approximately 1 hour, but ultrasound and fetal monitoring take up most of the test time.
  • After completion of the test it is possible to experience abdominal cramps or even slight vaginal bleeding.
  • Your doctor will recommend rest and relaxation. If you experience fever, chills or heavy vaginal bleeding then you should return to the doctor urgently.

When are the test results obtained?

The blood sample is taken to the laboratory and analyzed, and the results are usually offered within 72 hours. These will be interpreted by your doctor. He will also determine, depending on the outcome, and what are the next steps in the medical monitoring of the pregnancy.

Tags Prenatal tests