A hospital which has adopted a pioneering technique to store embryos produced by IVF treatment has seen pregnancy rates double.
Seventeen of the 39 women offered the embryo vitrification treatment at the University Hospital of Wales’ IVF clinic in the last year have so far fallen pregnant, with four of them expecting twins.
The Cardiff hospital is believed to be the first in the UK to offer embryo vitrification and it is certainly the first to use new cryoleaf technology to carry out the process, hospital bosses say.
Lyndon Miles, head of embryology and andrology for IVF Wales, explained that vitrification involves rapidly cooling and storing cells at very low temperatures for future use.
“An IVF cycle produces a number of embryos,” he said. “Those that aren’t immediately transferred back to the patient and that are of good enough quality are cooled slowly to the temperature of liquid nitrogen (-196C) and stored until needed.
“With conventional freezing methods, post-thaw survival rates vary from 50% to 80%, whereas we have achieved 98% with vitrification.”
Mr Miles added that, although it is a new technique for the UK, early results and publications in Japan and the USA have been “extremely encouraging”.
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