Review: Ultrasound boosts chances of in vitro fertilization success

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Women who go the in vitro fertilization route to get pregnant will have better changes if ultrasound is utilized during the procedure rather than the more common method known as “clinical touch,” reports.

"The results did not surprise us," said Julie Brown, MD, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, lead author of the review that appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library. "We would intuitively expect a better outcome with respect to pregnancy rates with ultrasound-guided transfer over a 'blind' procedure … and it was nice to have this proven in our meta-analysis."

The clinical touch method relies on a clinician’s touch to decide whether the catheter used for embryo placement is correct, whereas ultrasound-guided embryo transfer (UGET) can assist a clinician in confirming that the catheter is the appropriate position.

For the review, the authors evaluated 13 studies that involved women undergoing embryo transfer with randomized groups either undergoing ultrasound-guided or clinical touch embryo transfer technique.

Based on the information accumulated from the surveys the author’s studied, when compared to results from the clinical touch patients, the amount of live births or ongoing pregnancies for women in the ultrasound group was significantly higher. According to the authors, "for a population of women with a 25 percent chance of pregnancy using clinical touch, this would be increased to 32 percent by using UGET."

"IVF, as such, has a small success rate of about 30 to 35 percent and this can further vary in different labs," said Ashok Agarwal, PhD, director of research at the Reproductive Research Center at the Cleveland Clinic, reports. "In the future, these methods can further be improved upon to achieve a better pregnancy rate, but that will need multiple studies to make sure the right technique is being used and that evidence shows it is these techniques that are improving the success rate."