Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

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What are the benefits and risks of CVS?

A major benefit of CVS is that it can be performed earlier in the pregnancy than amniocentesis, providing information about genetic defects earlier in the pregnancy. If a woman chooses termination of pregnancy, it is safer at earlier stages of pregnancy.

Miscarriage is the main risk associated with CVS and occurs in 1 out of every 100 cases. The risk of miscarriage can be slightly greater than the risk of miscarriage associated with amniocentesis. Rarely, defects in the fingers or toes of the fetus have been reported with CVS, but these cases were particularly common when CVS was done very early in pregnancy, before 9 weeks' gestation. For this reason, most cases of CVS are performed only at or after 10 weeks' gestation. Infection is another uncommon complication of CVS.

Who should receive CVS testing?

CVS testing is generally offered to women or couples who have one of the following:

  • Women aged 35 or greater
  • Couples with a family history of genetic disorders or birth defects
  • Women with other abnormalities found in prenatal testing

Genetic counseling and a full discussion of the risks and benefits of the procedure are recommended before undergoing CVS testing.

Some women should not receive CVS testing. CVS testing is typically not recommended for:

  • Multiple gestations
  • Women with an active infection, such as a sexually-transmitted disease
  • Women who have had vaginal bleeding during the pregnancy

Additionally, women with uterine fibroids or a tilted uterus may not be good candidates for transcervical CVS testing.

Medically reviewed by Steven Nelson, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology

REFERENCE:

American Pregnancy Association.
Chorionic villus sampling.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/4/2015

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