Risks and Side Effects Involved in the Chorionic Villus Sampling Test


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Any kind of invasive test during a pregnancy carries with it some measure of risk, particularly if the purpose of the procedure is to extract materials from within the womb. The CVS test is an important test that is particularly used by couples with a family history of particular disorders. CVS is an invaluable tool in antenatal care, it does however carry some risks because of the nature of the procedure itself. This article looks at why CVS can be risky, and the potential dangers of the tests.

Why is CVS a potentially risky test?

Chorionic Villus Sampling involves the careful extraction of cells from a structure called the placenta. The placenta is responsible for mediating the passage of nutrition and waste back and forth between mother and child. During CVS a trained medical practitioner passes a specially constructed needle through either the abdominal wall or vaginal tract, and despite the fact that this is done under guidance provided by ultrasound imaging, there are potential risks involved when it comes to this test because of the fact that a foreign object is being passed into the womb to access the placenta.

That being said CVS is generally safe, however there is an element of risk involved that you should be aware of before deciding whether or not you want to have CVS done.

What are the potential risks of CVS testing?

Some side effects of CVS include temporary symptoms you might experience after the procedure has been performed. These do not pose a particular risk to you or your unborn baby in any case, and include some mild cramping (which is similar to the pain you might experience during a period) and light bleeding from the vagina known as spotting. These are usually very mild symptoms, but if they become more severe then you should report to your doctor as soon as possible.

The more serious effects of CVS occur very infrequently, but are still possibilities. These include potential damage to either you or your baby during the procedure, or the introduction of an infection because of a contaminant on the equipment or the accidental perforation (puncturing) of the bowel. Either event can potentially cause a miscarriage.

While these are potential consequences of CVS testing, they are not frequent occurrences, and only about 2% of CVS procedures result in a miscarriage. It is generally thought that performing CVS through the abdomen is safer than the alternative route (through the cervix), however there isn’t any concrete evidence to support this supposition as of yet.

Knowing about these risks prior to consenting to the test is important, and you can expect  your doctor to go through this with you in depth. Only after officially consenting to the procedure will the test be done. CVS is only recommended by medical professionals when the benefits outweigh the risks, and you can rest assured in that everything possible is done to ensure that the procedure is performed as effectively and safely as possible.


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