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Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a procedure that tests a small sample of pregnancy tissue to find certain genetic abnormalities.

What is a chorionic villus sampling (CVS)?

CVS tests the tissue that holds the fetus to the walls of your uterus. It helps find chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome. CVS is usually done between your 9th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.

Your doctor may suggest CVS if you:

  • are 35 years old or older

  • have a family history that increases the risk of certain birth defects

  • have had a child with a major birth defect

CVS testing is usually painless and very safe. But there is a small risk of miscarriage after CVS. About 1-3 out of 100 women who have CVS will have a miscarriage. You get to decide which, if any, genetic tests you want to have done.

How is the chorionic villus sampling procedure done?

You’ll have your CVS procedure at your doctor’s office. First they use an ultrasound to find your placenta. Then the doctor puts a very small tube through your cervix, or a thin needle through your belly into your uterus. They take a tiny piece of tissue from your placenta and send it to a lab to look for any problems.

The CVS results are usually ready in a few weeks. The test is 98 percent accurate for Down syndrome and other chromosomal defects, but it doesn’t find neural tube defects like spina bifida.  

CVS usually doesn’t hurt, but you may feel cramping or have a bit of bleeding or spotting after — this usually stops in a few days. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any discomfort or bleeding.

How much does a chorionic villus sampling cost?

The cost of a CVS procedure depends on where you get it and whether you have insurance. Many insurance plans cover at least some of the cost of CVS, but check with your insurance company to be sure.

If you don’t have insurance or your plan doesn’t cover the procedure, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. Your doctor’s office can give you more info about how much CVS costs and what type of payment plans they have.

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