Chorionic Villus Sampling on the NHS

CVS is an extremely important antenatal test for families with a history of potentially debilitating genetic diseases. These disorders are heritable, meaning that there is a possibility that they can be passed down from parent to child. While genetic testing prior to pregnancy can give a good idea of what the chances are that a newly conceived foetus can inherit disease causing genes, CVS directly examines the genes of an unborn baby to determine whether or not genes for illnesses conditions like cystic fibrosis, or the extra chromosome present in Down’s Syndrome, are present.

Is chorionic villus sampling available on the NHS?

CVS can be performed under the NHS provided certain criteria are met. Because of the cost and potential risks involved in CVS, the procedure is only suggested and performed where there is a history of severe genetic illness that justifies the test. For instance parents who have previously had a child with Down’s Syndrome will have the opportunity to pursue CVS.

Where can I get CVS in the NHS?

There are essentially two stages involved in CVS. The first is the actual extraction of chorionic villus cells (placental cells from which the test gets its name), which is done in a hospital or clinic with the appropriate equipment and facilities for the procedure. The second stage of the test is the actual genetic testing, which is usually done in an NHS laboratory with the specialist equipment and staff needed for such an investigation.

So in practical terms you can receive CVS testing at the hospital from which you receive your antenatal care. From then on things will be taken care of by the NHS.

Does it cost me anything to get CVS on the NHS?

As a public health service the NHS does not charge for its services, as such CVS is provided without charge but only where your doctor thinks it a necessary step. As mentioned above CVS is only considered in the NHS where there is a potentially serious risk to the quality of life of an unborn child.

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