Cordocentesis – cord blood sampling
Cordocentesis or cord blood sampling is also known as “Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling” (PUBS). It is a procedure in which the baby’s blood is taken for examination purposes while still unborn to diagnose any fetal abnormalities if present. It is performed using an advanced imaging ultrasound along with a very thin needle. The ultrasound helps in locating the placenta and umbilical cord juncture. The thin needle is then inserted into the baby’s umbilical cord through the uterine walls and abdomen of the mother and a small sample of baby’s blood are taken. This sample of blood is further checked in a lab and a report is produced in usually 72 hours. Cordocentesis should not be mistaken with amniocentesis which is the sampling of amniotic fluid as compared to blood fluid sampling in cordocentesis.
The need to perform cordocentesis arises when the information achieved from other sources such as CVS, amniocentesis and ultrasound is not conclusive enough to determine the required data. It is performed in the 17 weeks gestation, to detect any abnormality in chromosomes such as in Down syndrome or any blood disorder that may be present in the baby’s body. Also you can get help in diagnosing any infection or anemia the baby may suffer from, if there is any malformation of the baby or isoimmunization it can also be known through cordocentesis. Also the fetal platelet count present in the mother can be known. Neural tube defects cannot be tested through cordocentesis but through amniocentesis.
Although cordocentesis is a safe procedure and it helps in detecting certain blood abnormalities and disorders with accurately high results but it does not at all reflect the severity of the situation. It is considered safe but is invasive and there is a potential risk of miscarriage. Out of 100 cases 2 are reported to be miscarriage due to cordocentesis and the repercussions include infection, dropped heart beat of the baby, blood loss from the punctured area and premature membranes rupture. Other risks involve chills, fever and leakage of amniotic fluid.
There is a lot of debate on the pros and cons of cordocentesis. There are advantages of having this test as diagnosis and confirmation of any abnormality will make way for medical interventions. Suitable lifestyle changes can be adopted by the couple and resources and support groups can be known. Also a decision can be taken by the couple regarding whether or not the baby is to be taken to term.
The idea of cordocentesis is not liked by everyone though. Some couples may opt for other tests and deny having cordocentesis. In many cultures and religions it is considered unwisely and babies are accepted the way they are and having cordocentesis is considered a risk for the baby’s life. Other morals, cultures and religions believe that they are not provided with the choice of bringing the baby to term, any baby that is to be born should arrive in the world and whatever the consequences will be dealt with later on.
Whatever belief or mind set up you may belong to the important thing is to consider every important advantage and risk involved in the process of cordocentesis. You can always ask for advice from a medical expert on whether the risks are higher than the advantages or vice versa.