Amniocentesis is a procedure used to sample the fluid around the baby while in the uterus. This procedure is typically done during or after the fifteenth week of pregnancy. Amniocentesis can be used to determine whether the baby may have too many or too few chromosomes, whether the baby may have contracted a viral or bacterial infection, or later in the pregnancy, whether the baby's lungs are mature enough for delivery.
Amniocentesis involves placing a needle through the skin on the mother's abdomen into the uterus and collecting a small sample of the fluid around the baby while continuously watching with the ultrasound. Typically, amniocentesis is performed in the doctor's office.
With amniocentesis, there is a risk of infection or pregnancy loss. Statistics indicate that nationally, the risk is one pregnancy loss for every 200 to 400 amniocenteses performed. Studies have shown that the key to safety in amniocentesis is finding a provider who has had significant experience performing the procedure. In our hands, we find this to be a safe and useful procedure for situations in which there are concerns about the baby and when the results may help to manage the pregnancy.