Embryo transfer techniques: an American Society for Reproductive Medicine survey of current Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology practices

Fertil Steril. 2017 Apr;107(4):1003-1011. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.10.040.


Objective: To better understand practice patterns and opportunities for standardization of ET.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Not applicable.

Patient(s): Not applicable.

Intervention(s): An anonymous 82-question survey was emailed to the medical directors of 286 Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology member IVF practices. A follow-up survey composed of three questions specific to ET technique was emailed to the same medical directors. Descriptive statistics of the results were compiled.

Main outcome measure(s): The survey assessed policies, protocols, restrictions, and specifics pertinent to the technique of ET.

Result(s): There were 117 (41%) responses; 32% practice in academic settings and 68% in private practice. Responders were experienced clinicians, half of whom had performed <10 procedures during training. Ninety-eight percent of practices allowed all practitioners to perform ET; half did not follow a standardized ET technique. Multiple steps in the ET process were identified as "highly conserved;" others demonstrated discordance. ET technique is divided among [1] trial transfer followed immediately with ET (40%); [2] afterload transfer (30%); and [3] direct transfer without prior trial or afterload (27%). Embryos are discharged in the upper (66%) and middle thirds (29%) of the endometrial cavity and not closer than 1-1.5 cm from fundus (87%). Details of each step were reported and allowed the development of a "common" practice ET procedure.

Conclusion(s): ET training and practices vary widely. Improved training and standardization based on outcomes data and best practices are warranted. A common practice procedure is suggested for validation by a systematic literature review.

Keywords: Embryo transfer; in vitro fertilization; survey.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Embryo Transfer / adverse effects
  • Embryo Transfer / standards
  • Embryo Transfer / trends*
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities / standards
  • Healthcare Disparities / trends*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / diagnosis
  • Infertility / physiopathology
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Learning Curve
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Pregnancy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States