Women's Health

Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Fetal Blood Sampling (FBS) During Pregnancy

Overview

Fetal blood sampling (FBS) is the collecting of fetal blood directly from the umbilical cord or fetus. The fetal blood is tested for signs of anemia and other blood problems. FBS is also known as cordocentesis or percutaneous umbilical cord blood sampling.

FBS is usually used when a Doppler ultrasound and/or a series of amniocentesis tests have first shown moderate to severe anemia.

If you are Rh-sensitized and you are carrying an Rh-positive fetus, your immune system can attack the fetus's red blood cells. FBS is used to look at a fetus's red blood cell count and oxygen level. It also looks for signs that your immune system is destroying fetal red blood cells.

How It Is Done

FBS is performed in a hospital's outpatient surgery department. You will probably be given a sedative to reduce your and the fetus's movement during the FBS procedure.

  • The fetus may be given an injection of medicine that temporarily stops movement.
  • A small area of your belly is numbed with an injection of local anesthetic.
  • Ultrasound is used to guide a needle through your belly into an umbilical vein in the umbilical cord.
  • A small amount of blood is withdrawn into the needle and collected.

You may be given more medicine during FBS. These may include antibiotics to prevent infection or medicine to prevent preterm labor (tocolytic drugs).

Results

Fetal blood tests show the oxygen level, red blood cell condition, and red blood cell count. This helps your doctor plan the best treatment for you during your pregnancy.

If the effects of Rh sensitization are severe and the fetus has severe anemia, a fetal blood transfusion may be done right away. Future transfusions may be scheduled to keep the fetus healthy until it can be delivered safely.

Credits

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology