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Prenatal Screening

Prenatal screening can help protect the health and safety of both mother and baby. Various tests can identify potential birth defects, which can lead to proactive treatment and better quality of life for the mother and baby.

Prenatal Screening

During pregnancy, the well-being of mother and baby is paramount. Prenatal screening can help alleviate uncertainty.

Prenatal screening is particularly useful in assessing the risk of conditions, including chromosome abnormalities, open neural tube defects, and heart defects. At Valley Perinatal, we provide comprehensive fetal screening tests, as well as diagnostic tests. We also offer genetic counseling prior to any test, as it will help you decide which test (if any) is best for you and your baby, giving you peace of mind.

Diagnostic Tests

Genetic Amniocentesis

During a genetic amniocentesis procedure, a small amount of amniotic fluid is taken from the sac surrounding the fetus. By ultrasound guidance, a fine needle is inserted into the uterus through the abdomen. There may be some discomfort during the procedure, but a local anesthetic can be used to reduce pain.

A small sample of fluid—less than one ounce—is sent to our labs for analysis. The amniotic fluid surrounding the baby contains various fetal cells that can be tested for birth defects pertaining to a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome, or neural tube defects. Amniocentesis is usually only performed on women carrying children with a high risk for genetic disorders and has gone through prenatal screening. This would include women who have a family history of birth defects, have a previous child with birth defects, had an abnormal ultrasound, or will be older than 34 at the time of birth. The results of the procedure are about 99.4% accurate, and there is very little risk associated with amniocentesis.

Non-Stress Testing

Non-stress testing is a simple procedure that is painless for both you and your baby. It is done as fetal screening to evaluate the condition of your baby during pregnancy. During the test, we will monitor the baby’s heartbeat when he or she is active and resting. The test is usually performed on high-risk patients in the last months leading to the due date or if the due date has passed. Some other reasons might include: pre-existing diabetes in the mother, gestational hypertension, or the baby is not developing consistent with normal standards. During the procedure, the mother lies on her side and is connected to a monitor for the baby’s heartbeat. If the baby is sleeping, the technician may ask the mother to drink something in order to wake up the baby and get the baby moving. This test could last 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the activity of the baby.

Chorionic Villus Sampling

The prenatal test called chorionic villus sampling (CVS) takes a small amount of chorionic villi from the placenta. The fluid is taken through the cervix (transcervical) or the abdominal wall (transabdominal) and takes the cells from the placenta at the point where it is attached to the uterine wall. When collecting samples transcervical, the ultrasound is used to guide a catheter through the cervix to the placenta where the cells are lightly suctioned to the catheter. During the procedure, ultrasound is used to guide a thin, long needle through the abdomen to the placenta where the sample is drawn. The chorionic villi are used in this testing as they are placental tissue and share the genetic makeup of the fetus. It may be chosen over genetic amniocentesis, because it collects larger samples of tissue, and yield faster results. Similar to amniocentesis, CVS detects chromosome abnormalities but does not test for neural tube defects. 

Cerclage Placement

Cervical cerclage is a surgical procedure used to treat cervical incompetence. The term cervical incompetence is used when a woman’s cervix is weak. When this happens, the cervix opens or shortens too early and as a result, the mother is more likely to have a premature birth. A weak cervix many occur due to prior pregnancy history or miscarriage, a “cone biopsy,” or damaged cervix by abortion. During the cerclage placement, most women are given an epidural, and a doctor will stitch and tighten a band of strong thread around the cervix in order to hold it firmly closed. The thread can be easily removed when necessary and there is minimal risk when placing a cerclage.

Percutaneous Umbilical Cord Blood Sampling (PUBS)

Percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling, also known as cordocentesis, is a diagnostic test that analyzes the blood from the baby to detect abnormalities before birth. The procedure is performed using ultrasound imaging to determine the location of the umbilical cord and where it inserts into the placenta. From the guidance of the ultrasound, a thin needle is inserted into the abdomen and uterine walls to reach the umbilical cord. The needle then draws a small sample of blood form the umbilical cord. After the sample is drawn, it is sent to our labs for results. This procedure tests for malformations, fetal infection, fetal anemia, and isoimmunation. The test is safe for both the mother and baby and there are only a few possible side effects that should be discussed during your visit to our office.

Learn More About Prenatal Screening

Contact us with your questions about prenatal screening or ask your Ob/Gyn if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.