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Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

Using ultrasound for guidance, the doctor passes a catheter through the cervix or a needle through the abdomen and uterus, placing it on the chorionic membrane covering the fetus. Tiny pieces of the chorionic villi are suctioned into a syringe and sent to a lab for analysis. CVS is usually performed at ten to twelve weeks.

  • Provides information about chromosomal abnormalities
  • Provides information similar to amniocentesis, but earlier in pregnancy
  • Provides sample large enough for DNA analysis

Contraction Stress Test or Oxytocin Challenge Test

This test shows how the fetal heart rate (FHR) responds to uterine contractions. Contractions are induced until the mother has three contractions in ten minutes. Then, while the uterus continues contracting at that rate, an external electronic fetal monitor measures the FHR. Test results are "reassuring" if FHR remains normal during contractions. Results are "ominous" if FHR indicates fetal distress.

  • Predicts whether fetus can withstand stress of labor
  • Helps decide if high-risk pregnancy can continue, if labor should be induced, or if cesarean birth is indicated
  • Estimates placental function and fetal reserves

Cordocentesis or Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling (PUBS)

Using ultrasound for guidance, the doctor passes a needle through the mother's abdomen and uterus into the umbilical cord and withdraws fetal blood for testing. This test can be performed after sixteen to eighteen weeks.

  • Assesses fetal blood to detect anemia and oxygen level
  • May be used to give a blood transfusion, administer medications, or monitor effectiveness of fetal drug treatment

Doppler Blood Flow Study

A Doppler ultrasound unit placed on the mother's abdomen monitors the blood flow rate in the umbilical artery, the fetal blood vessels, and/or the mother's uterine artery

- Helps identify fetal-placental circulation problems

Fetal Movement Counting

During the third trimester, the mother counts and records her baby's movements during a brief, specified period each day.

  • Provides more reliable information than mother's informal impressions of fetal activity
  • Helps assess well-being of fetus
  • Helps mother learn about her baby

Glucose Tolerance Test

This test evaluates the body's ability to handle a large dose of sugar. The technician draws blood before the mother drinks a sugary drink and then again at one hour, two hours, and three hours afterward.

- Helps diagnose gestational diabetes if indicated by a screening test

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A superconductive magnet moves over the mother's skin above the area that is to be visualized. Composite images projected onto a video screen show different cross sections of the maternal or fetal organs or vessels being evaluated.

  • Allows a detailed look at internal organs and vessels
  • Estimates size of fetal anatomical structures and maturity of fetal organs


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