Is it time for a paradigm shift in understanding embryo selection?

Norbert Gleicher, Vitaly A. Kushnir, David H. Barad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Embryo selection has been an integral feature of in vitro fertilization (IVF) almost since its inception. Since the advent of extended blastocyst stage embryo culture, and especially with increasing popularity of elective single embryo transfer (eSET), the concept of embryo selection has increasingly become a mainstay of routine IVF. Discussion: We here, however, argue that embryo selection via blastocyst stage embryo transfer (BSET), as currently practiced, at best improves IVF outcomes only for a small minority of patients undergoing IVF cycles. For a large majority BSET is either ineffective or, indeed, may actually be harmful by decreasing IVF pregnancy chances. Overall, only a small minority of patients, thus, benefit from prolonged embryo culture, while BSET, as a tool to enhance IVF outcomes, is increasingly utilized as routine care in IVF for all patients. Summary: Since newer methods of embryo selection, like preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and closed system embryo incubation with time-lapse photography are practically dependent on BSET, these concepts of embryo selection, currently increasingly adopted in mainstream IVF, require reconsideration. They, automatically, transfer the downsides of BSET, including decreases in IVF pregnancy chances in some patients, to these new procedures, and in addition raise serious questions about cost-effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalReproductive Biology and Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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