What Is Chorionic Villi? - Sampling & Definition

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  • 0:01 Definition of Chronic Villi
  • 1:00 Chorionic Villi Sampling
  • 2:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

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. 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.

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