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Chorionic villi form during pregnancy and are crucial in the diagnosis of many illnesses that could affect a baby. In this lesson, we’ll examine what makes up chorionic villi as well as how they’re used in the field of medicine.

Definition of Chorionic Villi

When a fetus is developing, it has many membranes that link it to the mother. One of those membranes is known as the chorion.

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The chorion is formed by mesoderm tissue from the mother and trophoblast cells derived from the forming fetus. The chorionic villi emerge from this chorion and enter the endometrium. Chorionic villi are microscopic, finger-like projections that contain capillaries for blood to flow through.

The endometrium is the inner membrane of the uterus. It is here that the chorionic villi allow the transfer of nutrients from the mother’s blood to the fetus.Embryonic blood is carried to the villi by the various branches of the umbilical arteries. Here, the blood circulates through the capillaries of the villi and is then returned to the fetus through the umbilical veins. Oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood diffuse through the walls of the villi to, and provide nourishment for, the growing fetus. Carbon dioxide and waste products from the fetus circulate through the villi back into the mother’s blood.

Chorionic Villi Sampling

Chorionic villi sampling is a test done during early pregnancy that can detect problems with the fetus. While it is becoming more and more commonplace in medicine today, it traditionally was only performed when there were risk factors for the fetus. These risk factors may include increased age of the parents or a history of genetic disease.The genetic material found in the chorionic villi cells is the same as the genetic makeup of the fetus.

During chorionic villi sampling, a biopsy of the chorionic villi cells is taken. A biopsy is performed using a long needle to extract some of the cells. During the procedure, a physician uses a sonogram and a monitor to see the location of the needle inside the mother to make the extraction. Another method used by physicians is inserting a long thin tube through the vagina and into the cervix to extract some of the cells from the uterus.

Analysis of chorionic villi cells can detect a number of genetic diseases in the fetus as well as chromosomal birth defects. In the past, the only major means for detecting problems was amniocentesis, which involves taking a sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus for examination. However, amniocentesis is only reliable when it is done around twenty weeks of pregnancy. Since chorionic villi sampling can be done at the tenth week of pregnancy, it gives the parents a quicker way of knowing if there are any problems with the baby.

Lesson Summary

Chorionic villi sampling, which allows parents to know if there are potential genetic diseases or chromosomal mutations affecting their baby, is becoming increasingly popular in medicine today. It involves taking a sample of the chorionic villi that form during pregnancy. Chorionic villi allow the exchange of materials, including oxygen and nutrients, between a mother and fetus.

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