Alternate Names : Karyotyping
Chromosome analysis involves looking at cells under a microscope to see if the chromosomes are normal.
Who is a candidate for the test?
People who have physical features suggesting a chromosome syndrome are candidates for this test. It is also done for people who have certain types of cancer of the white blood cells. Fetuses can be tested when there is reason to think they may have a chromosome syndrome. In some cases, relatives of people with chromosome syndromes are tested to see if there is a familial chromosome abnormality.
How is the test performed?
Chromosome analysis is performed on cells taken from the person to be tested. The cells can be from blood or biopsy tissue. To test a fetus, the amniotic fluid in the womb or the placenta, the tissue that attaches the fetus to the mother, can be used.
Cells from any of these sources are put into containers in a laboratory and allowed to grow and multiply. When there are enough cells to study, the chromosomes are removed. Special stains are used to color the chromosomes and make them visible. Then, they are studied under a microscope to see if their number and structure are normal.
Pictures of the chromosomes that have been arranged by size and shape are often called "karyotypes." When a healthcare providers talk about a karyotype, they mean the pattern of chromosomes in a person's cells.