Services & Procedures


Amniocentesis is an invasive prenatal test usually performed between 16 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, although it can be performed later if there is an indication. Although it used to also be performed even earlier in the second trimester, this is no longer recommended as there is a higher risk of miscarriage and other complications. When it is performed during the optimum time frame, the risk of miscarriage, as well as other complications such as fetal or maternal injury, infection, and preterm labor, is small.

Am amniocentesis involves using a thin needle to take a small sample of the amniotic fluid from within the amniotic sac. Ultrasound guidance is used throughout the procedure. The procedure takes a few minutes to perform, and most women report that it is painless, although others may experience cramping or pressure within the uterus. Any discomfort typically is gone within a few hours following the procedure.

The results of an amniocentesis are considered to be nearly 100% accurate for chromosome abnormalities, although there may be technical difficulties that prevent proper collection of amniotic fluid and cells. Results are available within 7-10 calendar days following the procedure. After an amniocentesis, we advise our patients to go home and relax for the remainder of the day.  The following day, patients can resume their normal activities unless otherwise directed by their doctor.

Amniocentesis is often used when the mother is age 35 or older, has a high-risk screen, an abnormality on ultrasound, or if any inherited conditions run in either of the parents’ families.  It is typically used only to diagnose chromosome conditions such as Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13. If indicated, however, it can be used to test for many other conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to: spina bifida and other neural tube defects, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, fragile X syndrome, spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs disease, and hemophilia.

Additional testing, called a microarray, can be performed on the amniocentesis at the patient’s request and can detect hundreds of additional genetic disorders.


The Center for Fetal Medicine is a state-approved Prenatal Diagnosis Center. We have the ability to screen and test for maternal or fetal complications using state-of-the-art ultrasound (including 3D and 4D capabilities) in conjunction with diagnostic testing as needed. We provide preconception consultations, gynecologic ultrasound evaluations as well as advanced care for complicated maternal-fetal conditions and multiple gestations.

Obstetrical ultrasound is a safe, noninvasive procedure that uses sound waves to create images of the fetus, placenta and amniotic fluid. These images can be viewed in real time on a computer monitor by patient and doctor. An obstetrical ultrasound is often performed several times throughout pregnancy to monitor the growth and development of the fetus. During the first trimester, ultrasound can determine the age of the fetus or detect some potential birth defects. Later in the pregnancy, regular ultrasound exams measure the size (and position) of the fetus, placenta and amniotic fluid to help ensure that the delivery will not have any major complications.

An obstetrical ultrasound can be performed in your doctor's office during a regular visit. This procedure can be performed transabdominally or transvaginally, depending on the individual patient. A transabdominal ultrasound involves applying a gel to the lower abdomen and moving a transducer across the skin. This type of exam requires a full bladder that cannot be emptied until after the procedure is over. Transabdominal ultrasounds take 30 to 60 minutes to complete.

3D ultrasoundA transvaginal ultrasound involves inserting a transducer into the vagina and rotating it for a comprehensive view of the fetus and surrounding organs. Patients may experience some mild pressure similar to that experienced during a regular gynecological exam. There are no special preparations needed for this procedure, and it can usually be completed in 15 to 30 minutes. A transvaginal ultrasound can provide more detailed images of the uterus and ovaries and is especially useful during the early stages of pregnancy.

Ultrasound results are immediately visible on a computer screen for the doctor and patient to view together. More detailed results are usually available within one to two days, which your doctor will analyze for any additional information. Normal results will show a healthy fetus that has a normal size, heart and breathing rate and no visible birth defects.

If abnormal results occur, your doctor may perform additional testing or a procedure to address the abnormality. Ultrasound can detect problems including:

  • Signs of Down syndrome and other severe chromosome problems
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Placenta previa
  • Placental abruption
  • Pregnancy tumor
  • Too little amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios)
  • Overabundance of amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios)

There are no major risks or complications associated with an obstetrical ultrasound for mother or fetus. Ultrasounds are one of the most commonly performed diagnostic procedures and have been used for years in fetal monitoring and for many other purposes. There is no pain, needles or ionizing radiation used during this procedure, eliminating the common risks of other diagnostic procedures.

What technology do we use?

3d ultrasound faceThe Center for Fetal Medicine and Women's Ultrasound uses the latest technology, which includes HDlive. HDlive is an extraordinary rendering method generating realistic images of the human fetus. Through the use of an advanced illumination model, HDlive supports a moveable virtual light source and advanced skin-rendering techniques.

All of our physicians have special training in performing obstetric ultrasound examinations and have extensive experience in managing pregnancies where ultrasound abnormalities are found. In addition, all of our ultrasound technicians are registered diagnostic medical sonographers. Our center has been certified by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).

To learn more about our Services & Procedures or to make an appointment, call us at (323) 857-1952.

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