Cordocentesis Treatment Risk Factors & Procedure

Cordocentesis is a form of percutaneous umbilical cord sampling. This process is basically a prenatal test that entails the removal of a sample of baby’s blood from the umbilical cord and testing it later. 

This is a process that is done after week 18 of the pregnancy. This form of test is done in order to find out about the following:

  • Are there any genetic disorders?

  • Are there any blood conditions?

  • Are there any infections?

There are other benefitas of this form of test and they entail the following:

  • Delivering blood transfusions to the baby through the umbilical cord.

  • Delivering medications to the baby through the umbilical cord.

Why is Cordocentesis done?

  • Cordocentesis is both a prenatal diagnostic and treatment procedure and it is able to treat diseases like the foetal anaemia: a condition where a healthy amount of red blood cells are absent in the developing baby. 

  • Another reason to do this form of tests is that it provides a much deeper look into the diseases that are associated with genetic disorders. To that end, if processes such as the amniocentesis, or cryonic villi sampling fails, people stick to this one. 

  • This form of test is also able to check the number of foetal chromosomes that are available. Foetal blood karyotyping is a process that can be done within 48 hours. 

  • It provides the results quicker when you compare them to amniocentesis or Chorionic villi sampling. 

Are there any risks associated with this procedure?

The risks involved with this procedure are as follows: 

  • Foetal bleeding: This is a case where the bleeding occurs in the area where the needle is inserted. It is one of the most common complications of Cordocentesis. In case this particular form of complication proves to be lethal, blood transfusions are suggested.

  • Cord Haematoma: it is a condition where the foetal blood is accumulated within the umbilical cord. 

  • The baby’s heart rate might slow down: There is a temporary chance that the baby’s heart might slow down a bit after Cordocentesis. 

  • Infection: The process can lead to uterine or foetal infection. However, the chances of this are quite rare. 

  • Foetal maternal bleeding: it is a condition where the foetal blood gets mixed with the maternal blood. This form of risk happens in about 40% of the cases of the procedures. However, there is no need to worry about it as the amount of bleeding is extremely small.

  • Loss of pregnancy: One of the major and the highly probable things to consider here is the loss of a child during the procedure. This form of complication is higher to Cordocentesis when you compare it with other forms of prenatal tests.

Preparing for the procedure

When you are trying to prepare for the procedure, you need to keep the following in mind:

  • In case you are about 24 weeks pregnant, you should not eat anything a night before the procedure. 

  • Ask any questions about the procedure and the risks from your doctor. 

  • As the procedure is risky, it is suitable that you do not arrive in the hospital alone and take your partner with you. 

During and after the procedure

During the procedure:

  • You will be first given some antibiotics to deal with the risks associated with uterine or foetal infection.

  • The procedure begins with the process of ultrasound to ascertain the location of the baby. 

  • Your abdomen will be cleaned using an antiseptic. 

  • You will also be provided with a local anaesthetic in order to deal with any sort of discomfort. 

  • A thin needle will now be inserted through the abdominal wall. The entire process is guided using the ultrasound. Now, this needle is used to draw blood from the umbilical cord into the syringe. 

  • Throughout the entire ordeal, you will have to lie still.

After the procedure:

  •  Another round of ultrasound is done in order to check upon the heart rate of the baby.

  • Once you arrive at home, you should take some rest for a few hours. As for normal activities, you can resume them the next day. 

  • The blood will be analyzed in the labs and you will be provided with the results within the next few days. 

All this aside, you should know that owing to the complications associated with this disease, it is not common and people still tend to rely upon amniocentesis.


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Dr. Madhu Goel

Senior Gynecologist and a Senior Consultant

Dr. Madhu Goel is a well renowned senior gynaecologist and a senior consultant at Fortis La femme, New Delhi. She runs a private consultation in Goel’s surgery and Gynea centre and prior to being associated with Fortis; she was a consultant a Rockland Hospital.