Role of late amniocentesis in the era of modern genomic technologies

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2019 May;53(5):676-685. doi: 10.1002/uog.20113. Epub 2019 Apr 12.


Objective: Traditionally, amniocentesis is performed between 17 and 23 weeks of gestation. This enables decisions regarding the course of pregnancy to be made before viability. Less frequently, amniocentesis is performed in the third trimester. Advanced genomic technologies such as chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) provide more detailed information about the fetus compared with traditional G-banded chromosomal analysis. The aim of this study was to assess the indications for and safety of late amniocentesis, genetic-test results (especially in the context of CMA technology) and outcome of pregnancies that underwent the procedure after 24 weeks.

Methods: Medical records were analyzed retrospectively of all women in whom amniocentesis was performed at a gestational age of 24 + 0 to 38 + 6 weeks, at Hadassah Medical Center, between June 2013 and March 2017. Parameters investigated included indications for late amniocentesis, complications, CMA results and pregnancy outcome.

Results: During the study period, 291 women (303 fetuses, 277 singleton and 14 twin pregnancies; in two twin pairs, one fetus was terminated before amniocentesis) underwent late amniocentesis. CMA was performed in all instances of amniocentesis. The most frequent indication was abnormal sonographic finding(s) (204/303 fetuses, 67%). Preterm delivery occurred in 1.7% and 5.1% of pregnancies within the first week and within 1 month following the procedure, respectively. Aneuploidy was detected in nine (3%) fetuses and nine (3%) others had a pathogenic/likely pathogenic copy number variant, suggesting that CMA doubled the diagnostic yield of traditional karyotyping. Maximal diagnostic yield (17.5%) was achieved for the subgroup of fetuses referred with abnormal sonographic findings in two or more fetal anatomical systems. Variants of uncertain significance or susceptibility loci were found in another nine (3%) fetuses.

Conclusions: In pregnancies undergoing late amniocentesis, CMA increased detection rates of fetal abnormalities and had a shorter turnaround time compared with traditional chromosomal analysis; therefore, late amniocentesis may serve as a helpful tool for detecting fetal abnormalities or reassuring parents following late-appearing abnormal sonographic findings. However, CMA may expose findings of uncertain significance, about which the couple should be precounseled. The procedure appears to be safe. Copyright © 2018 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords: chromosomal microarray analysis; complications; fetal malformations; late amniocentesis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amniocentesis / methods
  • Amniocentesis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnosis*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / embryology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Microarray Analysis / methods
  • Microarray Analysis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors*