Definition - What does Cordocentesis mean?

Cordocentesis is a test done during pregnancy that involves taking a sample of blood from the vein in the umbilical cord of a fetus. It is also known as percutaneous umbilical blood sampling or PUBS.

FertilitySmarts explains Cordocentesis

Cordocentesis, which is usually performed after the 18th week of pregnancy, can test for certain genetic, blood, and infectious conditions in a fetus.

The doctor ideally carries out cordocentesis close to an operating room in case an emergency cesarean section becomes essential due to complications from the procedure. Ultrasound guides the passage of the needle through the mother’s tummy to the site where the umbilical cord attaches to the placenta. The doctor then injects the needle into the umbilical cord and withdraws a small sample of fetal blood from the umbilical vein. The sample is sent to the laboratory for analysis. Results are usually out within 72 hours.

After the procedure, the mother and baby are monitored for any complications. The most common complication is the risk of miscarriage, with one to two miscarriages for every 100 procedures.

Because cordocentesis carries a high-risk for complications to the baby that can be as serious as death, it is not routinely performed today. Instead, the test is typically reserved for cases where the results from less risky procedures like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling are not enough to identify any abnormality but the pregnancy is still considered high-risk.

Having said that, cordocentesis is still commonly done in cases of suspected fetal anemia — a deficiency of healthy red blood cells in the developing baby.

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