Please note that we are seeing high patient volumes in the emergency department. Learn more >>.

Know before you go to the ER
Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web

High-Risk Pregnancy Tests

At the Women & Infants Center, our high-risk pregnancy experts use the latest tools to diagnose, monitor and treat health problems in pregnant women and their unborn babies. We offer several specialized procedures not available anywhere else in the St. Louis area. 

Thanks to our team’s extensive training and experience, we are able to catch many potential problems that often go overlooked until later in a pregnancy. Early detection is key to providing the best treatment for you and your unborn baby.

High-Risk Pregnancy Tests

Our skilled team offers an extensive range of highly specialized tests, including:


During amniocentesis, your doctor takes a sample of amniotic fluid for testing. This fluid surrounds and protects your unborn baby while inside the amniotic sac. Amniocentesis typically takes place between weeks 14 and 18. 

This test detects neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and genetic disorders, such as Tay-Sachs disease and hemophilia. If you are at risk for premature delivery, your doctor may perform this test during the third trimester to gauge your baby’s lung maturity. 

Because this procedure involves piercing the amniotic sac that protects the baby, it is important that an experienced medical team perform the test. You can take comfort knowing that our maternal-fetal medicine specialists perform hundreds of these procedures every year.

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)

During CVS, your doctor takes a sample of placental tissue comprised of chorionic villus cells. This test can detect conditions like Tay-Sachs disease, hemophilia and Down syndrome. CVS testing typically occurs during the first trimester.

CVS is a delicate procedure that requires special expertise. Our doctors are some of the most experienced in the St. Louis metropolitan area, performing hundreds of CVS procedures every year.

Fetal Blood Sampling and Intrauterine Transfusion

Lack of blood cells, or fetal anemia, causes the unborn baby’s heart to pump harder and may lead to fetal heart failure. To check for signs of fetal anemia, your doctor extracts a small amount of blood from your unborn baby’s umbilical cord. This is called fetal blood sampling and involves inserting a needle through your abdominal wall and into the uterus.  

If a test reveals that your unborn baby has anemia, your doctor may perform fetal intrauterine transfusion to replace destroyed blood cells. Our maternal-fetal medicine specialists have special expertise in performing this highly complex procedure. You may need several transfusions throughout the pregnancy.

Fetal Echocardiogram (Echo)

Sonographers at our Fetal Heart Center perform this ultrasound imaging test to assess the development of your unborn baby’s heart. If the test reveals a heart defect, our cardiology experts at the Fetal Heart Center monitor and care for your baby throughout your pregnancy to help ensure a safe delivery and prompt cardiac care for your baby.

Fetal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Our radiologists have extensive experience performing and interpreting fetal MRIs. This noninvasive imaging procedure uses a magnetic field to provide detailed information about your unborn baby’s organs and development. Your doctor may recommend this test during the second or third trimester to check for abnormalities revealed in an earlier ultrasound or genetic test.

Genetic Testing

Your doctor may recommend genetic testing if you have a known risk factor for a genetic disorder, such as cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy. At the Women & Infants Center, our specialists use the newest generation of technology to assess genetic disorders before birth. 

Our genetic counselors will discuss screening and diagnostic options with you. If a blood test reveals a potential problem, your doctor may recommend more comprehensive testing, such as amniocentesis or CVS.

Ultrasound and Doppler Ultrasound

This noninvasive imaging test is helpful for routine and high-risk pregnancies. Your first ultrasound typically occurs around the 12th week of pregnancy.

Our ultrasound experts, called sonographers, focus exclusively on obstetrical and gynecological ultrasounds, performing more than 5,000 tests every year. This high volume and experience gives us the skillset to detect problems early. Our maternal-fetal medicine specialists are present during your ultrasounds to provide fast, accurate information about your unborn baby’s condition and treatment options.

In a Doppler ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves measure blood flow to the unborn baby. Your doctor uses this test to check for conditions caused by incompatible blood types between mother and child. Doppler ultrasounds typically take place during the third trimester.

Contact Us

To make an appointment with a Washington University maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 855.925.0631.