PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) is becoming an increasingly popular treatment option for patients. It is particularly successful for older couples and for those with a history of previous miscarriage. The treatment involves growing embryos to day 5 of development (the blastocyst stage) in the laboratory and then removing (biopsying) between 4-6 cells from the embryo. The embryos are then frozen whilst the cells are tested for chromosomal abnormalities. We know that depending upon female age, only around half of all embryos are chromosomally normal and this is one reason why many embryos are not able to implant and create a pregnancy. With PGS treatment only embryos that have been tested as chromosomally normal, having the correct number of chromosomes, are then thawed and transferred in a subsequent treatment cycle. The aim is to improve embryo selection by only transferring normal embryos, increasing the chance of success and also reducing the risk of further miscarriages, which are often associated with chromosomal abnormalities.
At CARE Manchester the results from replacing chromosomally normal embryos are fantastic, considering the group of patients that are recommend to have PGS. Our most recent clinical pregnancy data is from March 2016 – June 2017 when 49/90 patients had a clinical pregnancy (defined with a confirmed fetal heart beat at scan) which is 54%.
However, the decision to proceed with PGS is a complicated one and we can understand that many patients may have concerns about the biopsy procedure itself. Embryo biopsy is a highly skilled procedure that should only be performed by highly trained, competent staff. As with many IVF techniques the experience of the team performing this procedure can have a big impact on the eventual outcome.
We began performing embryo biopsy at CARE Manchester in 2011 when the focus was on testing eggs rather than embryos. However, very quickly the wider scientific community realised that the testing of embryos would be more successful and so our program was developed to also include an embryo biopsy technique. CARE Fertility was responsible for the birth of the first baby from PGS in the UK in 2011.
We are extremely fortunate at CARE Manchester that we have a very experienced embryology team carrying out the daily embryology laboratory workload, including the more specialised techniques. To date, the team at CARE Manchester have biopsied a staggering 3,409 embryos and two of our current practitioners have been biopsying since 2011 when it all started and have passed on their knowledge, expertise and vast experience to other members of the team. So, if PGS treatment is recommended for you to improve the chances of a successful outcome and you decide to proceed with this treatment option, you will certainly know that with our biopsy team your embryos are in safe hands.