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WomenCare WNY » Services » Pregnancy » Care During Pregnancy » Perinatal Testing

Perinatal Testing

Perinatal testing checks for diseases or conditions in a fetus or embryo before it is born.

Testing can assess your baby’s condition, rule out or confirm potential medical complications or problems, and help physicians manage or prevent difficulties.

When health status, family history, a mother’s age, or an obstetrical finding increases the risk of pregnancy, your obstetrician may refer you to the Fetal Testing Unit at Sisters Hospital or Mercy Hospital for counseling and testing.

Even if you are planning to deliver at another hospital, your tests may be performed at our testing centers. We will communicate the results of your test(s) to your physician as soon as possible.

Although testing time can vary by procedure, your testing will probably take about one hour.

*Indicates a test that is common for all pregnancies.

First Trimester Screening*

During your first trimester screening, you'll undergo a non-invasive test that enables our staff to estimate the risk for potential chromosomal abnormalities (including Down’s Syndrome) early in pregnancy. The test includes the Nuchal Translucency (NT) test, an ultrasound used to measure the thickness of the back of the baby’s neck, and a maternal blood test. This test is the most accurate, earliest, and safest prenatal screening test available.

When a First Trimester Screening is Offered

First trimester screenings typically take place between weeks 11 and 14 of pregnancy.


Ultrasound is a safe, non-invasive test that can evaluate pregnancy at all stages. It is often used to screen for potential fetal anomalies, determine gestational age, confirm a multiple pregnancy, assess fetal growth and well being, and discover complications of pregnancy.

We use 3-D technology in addition to the standard 2-D technology, allowing our staff to get more detailed photos of your baby when it is necessary.

In addition to our Perinatal Testing Centers, ultrasounds are available at Catholic Health locations across Western New York.

When an Ultrasound is Offered

An ultrasound may be offered in the first trimester to confirm a normal pregnancy, determine the baby's age and identify any problems.

Ultrasounds may also be performed in the second and third trimesters to monitor growth and development.

Ultrasounds are a part of several other tests including amniocentesis, nuchal translucency screening, and biophysical profiles (BPP).

Biophysical Profile (BPP)*

A biophysical profile uses ultrasound to look at the health of the fetus. It evaluates the activity of the fetus, body movements, breathing movements, fetal tone, and amniotic fluid levels (see amniotic fluid index).

The combined results of an ultrasound exam and the non-stress testing (NST) are referred to as a biophysical profile.

Amniotic Fluid Index

Amniotic Fluid Index is an estimate of the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby. It is done via ultrasound and can detect where there is not enough or too much amniotic fluid present and the concerns that go along with these conditions.

Non-Stress Testing (NST)

Non-Stress Testing uses external fetal monitors to track the baby’s heart rate and measure uterine contractions. It is performed when there is suspicion that the placenta may not be functioning well. Examples include post-dates pregnancies (pregnancies that last more than 42 weeks), suspected poor fetal growth, and previous pregnancy complications.

When BBP Is Offered

A BPP is commonly done in the last trimester of pregnancy. If there is a chance that your baby may have problems during your pregnancy (high-risk pregnancy), a BPP may be done by 32 to 34 weeks or earlier.

Fetal Echocardiography

Fetal Echocardiography, performed by ultrasound, is used to study the structure of an unborn baby’s heart in great detail.

Doppler ultrasound involves assessing blood flow in the baby’s heart and blood vessels, as well as the umbilical cord and the mother’s blood vessels which supply the uterus.

The fetal testing unit offers specialized care to unborn babies with heart problems using state of the art equipment and a team consisting of a fetal cardiologist, pediatric cardiologist, neonatologists and obstetricians.

When Fetal Echocardiography is Offered

Fetal Echocardiography is offered to women who are at a higher risk for giving birth to a baby with a heart defect.


Amniocentesis places a thin needle through the mother’s abdominal wall into the amniotic sac to obtain fluid for fetal testing. This is often done to test for genetic disorders such as Down’s Syndrome or birth defects such as Spina Bifida.

When Amniocentesis is Offered

An amniocentesis is generally offered to women between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy who are at increased risk for chromosome abnormalities, such as women who are over age 35 years of age at delivery, or those who have had an abnormal maternal serum screening test.


We offer consultations for high-risk pregnancy, multiple gestation, previous pregnancy loss, and advanced maternal age.


Mercy Hospital (Marian Professional Building, 2nd Floor)

The Mercy Hospital Fetal Testing Unit is located on the second floor of the Marian Professional Building (next to Mercy Hospital) on the corner of Alsace Avenue and Abbott Road.

  • Phone: (716) 828-3650
  • Hours: Monday - Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sisters of Charity Hospital (4th Floor)

  • Phone: (716) 862-1506
  • Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Becoming a Patient

Making an Appointment

To make an appointment, you’ll need to know which test you need to have and a prescription from the doctor who ordered it. You can make an appointment by calling the Perinatal Testing Center.

What to Bring

Please bring your prescription, your insurance card, and your license ID. Your copay is due at time of service.


Your appointment with the Perinatal Testing Unit is for a technical medical procedure that requires the concentration of our ultrasound technicians and nurses. You are welcome to have someone accompany you, but we request that you do not bring children under the age of 10.

If children accompany you, please make sure there is a responsible adult who can watch them in the waiting room during your examination.

More Information

Phone  Call us at the numbers listed above.
Email Email us

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