What is a Cordocentesis Test and When is it Performed?

Pregnancy is one of the most wonderful phases of any woman’s life as she waits for her little one to come into her arms. However, in some cases, the pregnancy is not a smooth and simple one and certain complications and problems may arise during it. Cordocentesis test is one such test performed during pregnancy, in some cases. Know what a cordocentesis test is when it is performed on a to-be-mother.

If the doctors suspect that the fetus is suffering from any kind of abnormality or infection which needs to be detected before birth, then they carry out certain tests to confirm the same. This is where a cordocentesis test proves to be of great use.

What is a Cordocentesis Test?

What is a Cordocentesis Test?

Cordocentesis test is a prenatal diagnostic test done in some pregnant women, if advised by doctors. It is also known as PUBS or percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling. When doctors suspects that the fetus growing inside the womb might be suffering from any kind of blood disorder, blood infection or genetic abnormality, cordocentesis test is performed to confirm the same. Sickle cell anemia, cleft palate, Down’s syndrome are some of common fetal abnormalities which can be detected with a cordocentesis test.

Cordocentesis test is a type of invasive procedure wherein blood is taken from the fetus’s umbilical cord and analyzed in detail. Such a test is generally performed between 18 to 24 weeks of gestation as by this time the umbilical cord, which is the link between the infant and the mother, gets fully developed. Also, it is the umbilical cord itself which passes on all the nutrition from the mother to the fetus at all times.

How is Cordocentesis Test Performed?

After learning what a cordocentesis test is, we should also learn how it is performed. In order to perform this test, the surgeon first advises the pregnant woman to lie down on her back. The abdominal area is cleaned and a needle is inserted into the umbilical cord. An ultrasound guides this process through the abdomen to avoid any mistakes. The surgeon collects blood in the syringe attached to the inserted needle once the needle has reached the umbilical cord. The collected blood is sent to the laboratory for a detailed analysis or as instructed by the surgeon.

Cordocentesis is used as an effective prenatal diagnostic technique. Also, it is useful in delivering medicine to the fetus if need be and performing blood transfusion for the fetus while in the mother’s womb.

Risks Involved in Cordocentesis Test

However, since a cordocentesis test is an invasive one, it runs a higher risk than a non-invasive technique as there are certain complications which have been associated with such a test. These would include bleeding in the fetus, slowing of the fetal heart rate, hematoma in the umbilical cord, bleeding in to-be-mother, infection in fetus or uterus, miscarriage or premature rupture of the membrane.

When is Cordocentesis Performed?

Cordocentesis test is performed when the doctor suspects that there is something wrong with the fetus in the prenatal ultrasound test. If during prenatal checks, the doctors find that the possibility of some genetic condition in the fetus, infection or some disorder then they may perform a cordocentesis test. Along with the above mentioned genetic disorders, Cordocentesis test is performed to detect infections such as rubella and toxoplasmosis.

A cordocentesis test is performed to detect serious genetic defects or anomaly, the risk of serious issues to the baby can be assessed. As this test is performed during initial weeks, the pregnant lady and her partner can decide about aborting the fetus in accordance with the medical advice and reports of cordocentesis test.

Another circumstance where a cordocentesis test is performed is when the fetus needs to be provided with certain medications through the umbilical cord or needs a blood transfusion via the same cord.

A cordocentesis test, for such reasons, can be performed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, when the risk of complication is less. However, after 24 weeks of pregnancy, a cordocentesis test is performed only in a hospital’s operation theatre as the risk increases tremendously. In some cases, an urgent cesarean section may have to be performed to deliver the baby without delay.


With great advancement in the world of medicine, cordocentesis test has taken a back seat mainly due to the complications it may give rise to. Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villi Biopsy are some other less risky and safer methods which also help detect an array of abnormalities in the fetus without harming it in any way. However, cordocentesis test is performed when the other types of tests are unable to provide proper diagnosis for the abnormality or disorder in the fetus.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 6, 2017

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