Amnioinfusion

Definition - What does Amnioinfusion mean?

Amnioinfusion is a procedure performed to artificially increase the fluid in the amniotic space around the fetus after the fluid has been depleted. This procedure is typically performed during labor by placing a catheter through the cervical canal after the bag of fluid has broken or a needle can be used to inject fluid through the abdomen. The purpose of amnioinfusion is to increase the fluid inside the uterus in order to decrease risk for complications associated with significant loss of fluid including the intermittent decrease of fetal heart rate and to thin meconium and prevent the fetus from breathing in meconium, the first bowel movement, before delivery.

FertilitySmarts explains Amnioinfusion

Amnioinfusion is considered in circumstances when lack of amniotic fluid is perceived to be the problem including instances of prolonged labor or rapid fluid depletion after the bag of fluid has broken. Adding fluid in the amniotic space surrounding the baby is an effort to replace the lost fluid. The two most common circumstances when amnioinfusion is used are in the treatment of severe intermittent decelerations of the fetal heart rate and to dilute thick meconium during labor.

One of the most common reasons for a fetus to experiencing intermittent decelerations in the heart rate is due to compression of the umbilical cord. When fluid has been depleted the umbilical cord may more easily become compressed as a result of the cord being around the neck or under the arm of the fetus, or between the fetus and the wall of the uterus. Increasing the amount of amniotic fluid may better protect the umbilical cord from compression by allowing it to float away from structures that could compress it and decrease the number of episodes of slowed heart rate.

Amnioinfusion can also be used to dilute thick meconium. Meconium is the fetus' first bowel movement and when it occurs before delivery, can cause problems if the fetus breathes the meconium into the lungs, a condition known as meconium aspiration. Meconium aspiration is associated with an increased risk of prolonged labor, cesarean delivery, and in severe cases, the death of the infant. These risks are not seen in the presence of thin meconium so amnioinfusion can be used to thin otherwise thick meconium.

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