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Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

I’m debating whether to have CVS. What exactly happens during the procedure?

Re: I’m debating whether to have CVS. What exactly happens during the procedure?

The Bump Expert

The CVS question is definitely not an easy one, and you’re smart to do your research before making a decision. If you do opt for the procedure, it will be performed around the end of your first trimester, between weeks ten and twelve.

The first step in the procedure is an ultrasound, which is used to confirm your pregnancy stage and determine the placenta’s location. Based on this, your doctor will determine whether to go through your cervix or abdomen to get the chorionic villi sample from your placenta. (This just depends on which direction will give easier access to your placenta.) The cells in this tissue have the same genetic makeup as baby, which means any chromosomal abnormalities which show up in the cells will also be present in baby.

For a transcervical procedure (through the cervix), you’ll be asked to lie on your back with your feet in stirrups. A speculum will be inserted into your vagina (think back to your last pap smear), and antiseptic used to clean your vagina and cervix. This ensures that bacteria won’t travel into your uterus during the procedure and cause an infection. Then, your doc will thread a catheter (a long, thin tube) through your vagina and cervix and use gentle suction to take a tissue sample from the placenta. For a transabdominal procedure (through the abdomen), you’ll receive a shot of local anesthetic to numb the belly area. Then, a longer needle will be put through your skin, muscle and uterine wall to reach the placenta and take a tissue sample. For each technique, ultrasound will be used to guide and monitor the entire process.

After the sample is extracted, baby’s heart rate and your blood pressure, pulse and breathing will be monitored for at least half an hour. If your blood is Rh negative, you'll receive a shot of immunoglobulin after (unless baby's father is also negative),in case your blood mixed with baby's potentially non-compatible blood during the test. Make sure someone is available to drive you home afterwards, because you'll need to take it easy for the rest of the day, and avoid sex, heavy lifting and flying for the next three days. You might experience minor cramping, but if they become severe, notice leaking amniotic fluid or spotting,or develop a fever (possible sign of an infection), call your doctor right away– these are all signs of potential miscarriage.

The test lasts about half an hour, and the actual tissue extraction only takes a few minutes. The transcervical procedure feels similar to a pap smear -- there might be some cramping or pinching, but it shouldn’t last long. In a transabdominal procedure, you’ll feel a sharp but quick sting from the numbing medication, and no further pain when the collecting needle goes in. You might cramp a little when the needle is actually in your uterus.

Expect results in about seven to ten days. Cells from your tissue need to be isolated and allowed to reproduce for a week or so, then analyzed for any chromosomal abnormalities. CVS can also be used to detect certain genetic disorders, but not neural tube defects (you’ll need amniocentesis for that). Your chances of a mosaicism result, where some cells have abnormal chromosomes and some don’t, are about1%. If this is the case, your doc will probably recommend further testing such as amniocentesis.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.

Paula Kashtan

re: Q: What to Expect in CVS?

My husband and I are debating about whether or not to have this procedure done. I have very mixed feelings about it and so does he. It just seems so invasive, and not necessarily needed to be done. Too many tests out there now...

aimee6 |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

Oh my goodness....yes this does sound very invasive.....can anyone do it or is it for women who have a family history of baby birth defects?

alma_vargas |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

I will probably go for it. I feel it's better to know if something is wrong ahead of time... that way I can prepare myself or even potentially take extra care to make sure I have a healthy baby. Whatever is available to have a healthy and happy baby, I'll go for it!

lauren_mpenny |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

I won't be doing it, especially with the risk of miscarriage from it.

heylee |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

i am not sure if i would do it or not to be honest i had the amniocentesis done with my last pregnancy because some of my 12wk scan was turning out wrong. if i had to get one done i probably would shoot for the amnio again

stardon22 |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

I won't do it for 2 reasons. I always get terrified at needles and I have had 2 miscarriages already and I don't want any risks with this one. I finally am having a healthy pregnancy so far and want to keep it that way. I'm sure that that is an awesome option for some families, but not for me! Good luck to any moms-to-be who wish to get it done, though.

MomaTeasley |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

I had a CVS done at 12 weeks and 3 days. We found out my baby girl had a chromosomal disorder from the resutls of the CVS. The procedure was not bad at all. they numbed the site and then used a ultrasound to guide the needle into my placenta. it really just felt like menstral cramps and then the cramping was over after they was done. the CVS gave me the reason why my baby died a week later and to me it was worth the risk of the miscarriage to know.

FutureKendall |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

With my first dd we opted out of this. We decided that it wouldn't change the love we have for the baby regardless of what the result would be. Our dr also mentioned to us that this test has a high "wrong answer" result, meaning: you could get a positive answer and it'll turn out that there really isn't any problems or defects at all. We opted not to have the extra stress added on and just said - if there's a problem we'll handle it after she's born.

samakasrc |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

i wont be doing this, for one cause the chance of miscarriage and for two if my baby has a problem it wont make it any different, i will still have the baby the same way as i do the other way an i will still love the baby just as much. I have a cousin who came with problems an they had no problem taking care of her or anything,, yea there is alot of extra money involved but instead of putting toward alot of clothes ill put it for medical treatment! so what ever happens happens for a reason an i will be proud either way!! :)

danielle0123 |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

I've had too many mc's to take the chance on something like this....my doc said that if I wouldn't "do anything about it" then there's no reason for the test with my history.... my bd and I are perfectly fine with whatever outcome

meque183 |

Q&A: What to expect in CVS?

also, you may want to remember that a lot of insurances don't pay for this test.... Not that money is a good reason to not get it done, but if you wouldn't change your decision of "what to do about a problem", that may be one more factor to add in.....

meque183 |