Diagnostic Technology

Lester D. Stone, EL 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University, 2006

Diagnostic technologies represent another example of the cyborg self. In the medical field, amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, and blood tests configure fetuses but in quite different ways. Amniocentris begins with a fluid withdrawn from a pregnant woman's amniotic sac transabdominally using a large needle, usually during the second trimaster of pregnancy. The fluid contains fetal cells, and is cultured and analyzed particularly for chromosomal anomalies and neural tube defects. A doctor can use thenewer technique of chorionic villus sampling in the first trimester and thus often seen as an alternative to amniocentesis. In CVS, a surgeon insertes a catheterthrough a woman's cervix and directly into the chorion, the outermost fetal membrane. Villi, or small hair-like projections on the surface of the membrane, are removed using a syringe, then separated from the maternal tissue and cultured. Like amniocentesis, CVS is a technique for diagnosing genetic abnormalities. Both CVS and amniocentesis are invasive diagnostic technologies, and may cause a pregnant woman to miscarry her fetus.

The simple blood test is the third diagnosis procedure. The still experimental blood test could potentially avoid the risk of spontaneous abortion because of little danger to the fetus. Clinicians sift through a sample of maternal blood using cell sorters to find the small number of fetal cells that migrate through tiny fissures in the placenta. The fetal cells are then examined for genetic abnormalities using a technique called fluorescent-in-situ hybridization. This marks certain chromosomes for viewing under special microscopic light. A diagnostic blood test could easily become an integral part of prenatal care. Until the prenatal diagnosing transforms the fetus into a fetal cyborg, the fetus is less real to the pregnant woman. In that sense, the simulation and simulacra make the reality come to life.

History of the Cyborg: Index

Course Website cyborg Body & Self

Last modified 30 December 2006