Author(s): Gerris J, Van Royen E
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Abstract It has been generally accepted that triplets after IVF/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can and should be avoided by adopting a standard strategy of replacing no more than two embryos. However, there is an increasing awareness of the risks and costs and of the epidemic size of twin pregnancies after IVF/ICSI. This has resulted in efforts to replace no more than one embryo. However, this approach has been hampered by our relative inability to identify embryos with a very high implantation potential. To identify such embryos, a number of strategies are being considered, both at the two pronuclear (2PN), early cleavage and the blastocyst stages. At the 2PN stage, the polarity characteristics of the nucleoli have been shown to be correlated with a high implantation rate. Similarly, the morphological characteristics at day 2 and 3 have been used to describe top quality embryos in approximately 75\% of all IVF/ICSI cycles. Blastocyst culture has resulted in very high implantation rates in the hands of some authors. No approach has shown its superiority at present, but initial experience with single embryo transfer (SET) at the early cleavage stage by Scandinavian and Belgian groups shows that an ongoing pregnancy rate of 35\% and more can be achieved. Proper identification of patients at risk of a twin pregnancy after double embryo transfer is equally important. It is clear that mainly young patients (aged <34 years) during their first, perhaps first two, IVF/ICSI cycles constitute the main population at risk (responsible for >80\% of all twins) and are the main target group for twin prevention by SET of a top quality embryo at whatever stage. Therefore, in our opinion, although a further fine-tuning of both embryo and patient characteristics relating to a high risk for (twin) pregnancy is desirable, SET should be introduced carefully and progressively in each IVF/ICSI programme from now on. Correct counselling is very important and both public and private insurers will have to join in the discussion.
This article was published in Hum Reprod
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics