Clinical Complications In Oocyte Retrievals: A Brief Look Into A Recent Retrospective Study

Kallie Fell
cbc-network.org
2019-07-10

A year ago this month, Fertility and Sterility published an article that assessed complications arising from oocyte retrievals. More specifically, researchers performed a retrospective analysis of ultrasound-guided transvaginal oocyte retrieval procedures and the ensuing complications that occurred between 1996 to 2016 at the Fertility Center Humanitas Research Hospital in Italy. A total of 23,827 consecutive oocyte retrieval procedures in 12,615 patients were analyzed for complications.

First, it is important to understand what oocyte retrieval is. If you know what this is, skip this paragraph and keep reading below. Egg donation, surrogacy, and IVF all require oocyte retrieval. ‘Oocyte’ is just a fancy word for egg. To create an embryo (or baby) you have to have an egg (from a female) and a sperm (from a male). Oocyte retrieval is a procedure where doctors remove an egg from a woman’s body. The gold standard way to remove an egg from a woman’s body is the ultrasound-guided transvaginal (US-TV) route. It is less invasive than other methods and was first performed only 36 years ago.

Secondly, I would like to point out that studies like this are important because they help potential egg donors or women undergoing IVF understand the risks associated with procedures like egg donation. Studies like this form the basis of informed consent. The authors of this study agree. They write, “the risks associated with US-TV should not be underestimated because some complications, although rare, may be life-threatening.” Authors go on to state:

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