Molecular Pathology Laboratory Network

Alphafetoprotein (amniotic fluid)

Test Code
Neural tube defect
Chemiluminescent Immunoassay / Electrophoresis
CPT Codes
82106 - Alpha-fetoprotein, amniotic
Turnaround Time
Within 5 days
Specimen Requirements
Transport 2.5mL amniotic fluid. (Min: 1.5mL)
Specimen Stability
  • Ambient for 2 weeks
  • Refrigerated for 4 months
  • Frozen for 3 years
  • Storage & Handling
  • Store specimen at room temperature
  • Causes for Rejection
    Specimens contaminated with fetal blood
    Reference Range
    Include gestational age at time of collection or estimated due date, physician name and phone number on the test request form.
    Related Content
    Information must include weeks of gestation. If the AFP (amniotic fluid) is elevated, the Acetylcholinesterase will be added. Acetylcholinesterase testing requires an additional 3-11 days to be reported.
    Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is found in both fetal serum and also amniotic fluid. This protein is produced early in gestation by the fetal yolk sac and then later in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. This protein’s level increases and decreases during certain weeks of pregnancy, which is why accurate pregnancy dating is crucial.

    The AFP test measures high and low levels of alpha-fetoprotein. The results are combined with the mother’s age and ethnicity to assess probabilities of potential genetic disorders. High levels of AFP may suggest the developing baby has a neural tube defect such as spina bifida or anencephaly. High levels of AFP may also suggest defects with the esophagus or a failure of the baby's abdomen to close. Low levels of AFP and abnormal levels of hCG and estriol may indicate that the developing baby has Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) or another type of chromosome abnormality.

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