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Chorionic villus sampling

Alessandro Ghidini, MD
Section Editor
Louise Wilkins-Haug, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) refers to a procedure in which small samples of the placenta are obtained for prenatal genetic diagnosis, generally in the first trimester after 10 weeks of gestation. CVS results are available earlier in pregnancy than amniocentesis results, which provides privacy since the pregnancy has not begun to “show” and shortens the duration of anxiously waiting for information about the fetus. If the results lead to a decision to terminate the pregnancy, the termination can be performed at a gestational age when the procedure is more widely available and has lower risks than mid-second trimester termination procedures. However, CVS results have higher diagnostic uncertainty than amniocentesis and the procedure may be less safe than second trimester amniocentesis.


CVS enables prenatal diagnosis of any condition in which diagnostic cytogenetic, biochemical/molecular, or DNA analysis is possible. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that invasive diagnostic testing should be available to all women, regardless of age or risk [1].

The most common reasons for prenatal genetic diagnosis include [2]:

Maternal age 35 years or older at estimated date of delivery

Previous child with a chromosome abnormality or genetic disorder

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 01, 2017.
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