Before the start of the procedure, a local anesthetic can be given to the mother in order to relieve the pain felt during the insertion of the needle used to withdraw the fluid. After the local is in effect, a needle is usually inserted through the mother's abdominal wall, then through the wall of the uterus, and finally into the amniotic sac. With the aid of ultrasound-guidance, a physician punctures the sac in an area away from the fetus and extracts approximately 20 ml of amniotic fluid.
If used for prenatal genetic diagnosis, fetal cells are separated from the extracted sample. The cells are grown in a culture medium, then fixed and stained. Under a microscope the chromosomes are examined for abnormalities. The most common abnormalities detected are Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18), and Turner syndrome (monosomy X). In regard to the fetus, the puncture heals and the amniotic sac replenishes the liquid over the next 24–48 hours.
Read more about this topic: Amniocentesis