Effects of embryo transfer catheters on the endometrial surface noted at hysteroscopy

J Minim Invasive Gynecol. May-Jun 2013;20(3):381-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jmig.2013.01.004. Epub 2013 Mar 15.


Study objective: To assess the effects on the endometrial surface of embryo transfer catheters using hysteroscopy with ultrasound guidance.

Design: Prospective descriptive study (Canadian Task Force classification III).

Setting: University-based clinical practice.

Patients: Twenty patients with a documented difficult trial transfer (TT).

Intervention: All patients underwent an intraoperative TT using an Edwards-Wallace catheter (n = 10), a Soft-Pass catheter with obturator (n = 2), or an Echosight Patton catheter with a coaxial wire (n = 8), with placement assured using ultrasound. This was followed by hysteroscopy and cervical surgical correction.

Measurements and main results: A 5-mm hysteroscope was used to visualize, assess, and document TT catheter placement and effects on the endometrial cavity. The Wallace catheter caused the least trauma (20%). The Soft-Pass catheter with obturator (100%) resulted in linear grooves in the endometrial surface. The most traumatic effects occurred with use of the coaxial catheter (38%), which caused shaving with petechial bleeding past the point of obstruction. In addition, 3 of the Wallace catheters were improperly placed (cannulation of tubal ostia, n = 2) and coiled back (n =1).

Conclusion: Despite ultrasound guidance, endometrial disruption and catheter displacement occurs with difficult embryo transfer catheter placement, which may suggest an explanation for lower pregnancy rates in these difficult cases. Greater attention to correction of cervical disease before an in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer cycle may improve clinical outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization / methods
  • Catheters / adverse effects*
  • Embryo Transfer / instrumentation*
  • Endometrium / diagnostic imaging
  • Endometrium / injuries*
  • Endometrium / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysteroscopy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional