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1.  Selection of competent blastocysts for transfer by combining time-lapse monitoring and array CGH testing for patients undergoing preimplantation genetic screening: a prospective study with sibling oocytes 
BMC Medical Genomics  2014;7:38.
Background
Recent advances in time-lapse monitoring in IVF treatment have provided new morphokinetic markers for embryonic competence. However, there is still very limited information about the relationship between morphokinetic parameters, chromosomal compositions and implantation potential. Accordingly, this study aimed at investigating the effects of selecting competent blastocysts for transfer by combining time-lapse monitoring and array CGH testing on pregnancy and implantation outcomes for patients undergoing preimplantation genetic screening (PGS).
Methods
A total of 1163 metaphase II (MII) oocytes were retrieved from 138 PGS patients at a mean age of 36.6 ± 2.4 years. These sibling MII oocytes were then randomized into two groups after ICSI: 1) Group A, oocytes (n = 582) were cultured in the time-lapse system and 2) Group B, oocytes (n = 581) were cultured in the conventional incubator. For both groups, whole genomic amplification and array CGH testing were performed after trophectoderm biopsy on day 5. One to two euploid blastocysts within the most predictive morphokinetic parameters (Group A) or with the best morphological grade available (Group B) were selected for transfer to individual patients on day 6. Ongoing pregnancy and implantation rates were compared between the two groups.
Results
There were significant differences in clinical pregnancy rates between Group A and Group B (71.1% vs. 45.9%, respectively, p = 0.037). The observed implantation rate per embryo transfer significantly increased in Group A compared to Group B (66.2% vs. 42.4%, respectively, p = 0.011). Moreover, a significant increase in ongoing pregnancy rates was also observed in Group A compared to Group B (68.9% vs. 40.5%. respectively, p = 0.019). However, there was no significant difference in miscarriage rate between the time-lapse system and the conventional incubator (3.1% vs. 11.8%, respectively, p = 0.273).
Conclusions
This is the first prospective investigation using sibling oocytes to evaluate the efficiency of selecting competent blastocysts for transfer by combining time-lapse monitoring and array CGH testing for PGS patients. Our data clearly demonstrate that the combination of these two advanced technologies to select competent blastocysts for transfer results in improved implantation and ongoing pregnancy rates for PGS patients.
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-7-38
PMCID: PMC4077552  PMID: 24954518
Time-lapse monitoring; Array CGH; PGS; Ploidy; Implantation; Miscarriage
2.  Selection of euploid blastocysts for cryopreservation with array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) results in increased implantation rates in subsequent frozen and thawed embryo transfer cycles 
Background
In assisted reproductive treatments, embryos remaining after fresh embryo transfer are usually selected for cryopreservation based on traditional morphology assessment. Our previous report has demonstrated that array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) screening for IVF patients with good prognosis significantly improves clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates in fresh embryo transfer cycles. The current study further investigates the efficiency of applying aCGH in the selection of euploid embryos for cryopreservation as related to pregnancy and implantation outcomes in subsequent frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles.
Methods
First-time IVF patients with good prognosis undergoing fresh single embryo transfer and having at least one remaining blastocyst for cryopreservation were prospectively randomized into two groups: 1) Group A patients had embryos assessed by morphology first and then by aCGH screening of trophectoderm cells and 2) Group B patients had embryos evaluated by morphology alone. All patients had at least one blastocyst available for cryopreservation after fresh embryo transfer. There were 15 patients in Group A and 23 patients in Group B who failed to conceive after fresh embryo transfer and completed the FET cycles. Blastocyst survival and implantation rates were compared between the two groups.
Results
There were no significant differences in blastocyst survival rates between Group A and Group B (90.9% vs. 91.3%, respectively; p >0.05). However, a significantly higher implantation rate was observed in the morphology assessment plus aCGH screening group compared to the morphology assessment alone group (65.0% vs. 33.3%, respectively; p = 0.038). There was no miscarriage observed in Group A while a 16.7% miscarriage rate was recorded in Group B (0% vs. 16.7%, respectively; p >0.05).
Conclusions
While aCGH screening has been recently applied to select euploid blastocysts for fresh transfer in young, low-risk IVF patients, this is the first prospective study on the impact of aCGH specifically on blastocyst survival and implantation outcomes in the subsequent FET cycles of IVF patients with good prognosis. The present study demonstrates that aCGH screening of blastocysts prior to cryopreservation significantly improves implantation rates and may reduce the risk of miscarriage in subsequent FET cycles. Further randomized clinical studies with a larger sample size are needed to validate these preliminary findings.
doi:10.1186/1755-8166-6-32
PMCID: PMC3766007  PMID: 23937723
aCGH; Trophectoderm biopsy; Cryopreservation; Implantation
3.  Follow-up analysis of federal process of care data reported from three acute care hospitals in rural Appalachia 
Background
This investigation evaluated standardized process of care data collected on selected hospitals serving a remote rural section of westernmost North Carolina.
Methods
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data were analyzed retrospectively for multiple clinical parameters at Fannin Regional Hospital, Murphy Medical Center, and Union General Hospital. Data were analyzed by paired t-test for individual comparisons among the three study hospitals to compare the three facilities with each other, as well as with state and national average for each parameter.
Results
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “Hospital Compare” data from 2011 showed Fannin Regional Hospital to have significantly higher composite scores on standardized clinical process of care measures relative to the national average, compared with Murphy Medical Center (P = 0.01) and Union General Hospital (P = 0.01). This difference was noted to persist when Fannin Regional Hospital was compared with Union General Hospital using common state reference data (P = 0.02). When compared with national averages, mean process of care scores reported from Murphy Medical Center and Union General Hospital were both lower but not significantly different (−3.44 versus −6.07, respectively, P = 0.54).
Conclusion
The range of process of care scores submitted by acute care hospitals in western North Carolina is considerable. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “Hospital Compare” information suggests that process of care measurements at Fannin Regional Hospital are significantly higher than at either Murphy Medical Center or Union General Hospital, relative to state and national benchmarks. Further investigation is needed to determine what impact these differences in process of care may have on hospital volume and/or market share in this region. Additional research is planned to identify process of care trends in this demographic and geographically rural area.
doi:10.2147/CEOR.S42649
PMCID: PMC3615699  PMID: 23569393
process of care; hospital quality; North Carolina; rural
4.  Balancing selected medication costs with total number of daily injections: a preference analysis of GnRH-agonist and antagonist protocols by IVF patients 
Background
During in vitro fertilization (IVF), fertility patients are expected to self-administer many injections as part of this treatment. While newer medications have been developed to substantially reduce the number of these injections, such agents are typically much more expensive. Considering these differences in both cost and number of injections, this study compared patient preferences between GnRH-agonist and GnRH-antagonist based protocols in IVF.
Methods
Data were collected by voluntary, anonymous questionnaire at first consultation appointment. Patient opinion concerning total number of s.c. injections as a function of non-reimbursed patient cost associated with GnRH-agonist [A] and GnRH-antagonist [B] protocols in IVF was studied.
Results
Completed questionnaires (n = 71) revealed a mean +/− SD patient age of 34 +/− 4.1 yrs. Most (83.1%) had no prior IVF experience; 2.8% reported another medical condition requiring self-administration of subcutaneous medication(s). When out-of-pocket cost for [A] and [B] were identical, preference for [B] was registered by 50.7% patients. The tendency to favor protocol [B] was weaker among patients with a health occupation. Estimated patient costs for [A] and [B] were $259.82 +/− 11.75 and $654.55 +/− 106.34, respectively (p < 0.005). Measured patient preference for [B] diminished as the cost difference increased.
Conclusions
This investigation found consistently higher non-reimbursed direct medication costs for GnRH-antagonist IVF vs. GnRH-agonist IVF protocols. A conditional preference to minimize downregulation (using GnRH-antagonist) was noted among some, but not all, IVF patient sub-groups. Compared to IVF patients with a health occupation, the preference for GnRH-antagonist was weaker than for other patients. While reducing total number of injections by using GnRH-antagonist is a desirable goal, it appears this advantage is not perceived equally by all IVF patients and its utility is likely discounted heavily by patients when nonreimbursed medication costs reach a critical level.
doi:10.1186/1477-7827-10-67
PMCID: PMC3447708  PMID: 22935199
GnRH-antagonist; IVF; Preference; Patient cost; Health economics
5.  Array comparative genomic hybridization screening in IVF significantly reduces number of embryos available for cryopreservation 
Objective
During IVF, non-transferred embryos are usually selected for cryopreservation on the basis of morphological criteria. This investigation evaluated an application for array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) in assessment of surplus embryos prior to cryopreservation.
Methods
First-time IVF patients undergoing elective single embryo transfer and having at least one extra non-transferred embryo suitable for cryopreservation were offered enrollment in the study. Patients were randomized into two groups: Patients in group A (n=55) had embryos assessed first by morphology and then by aCGH, performed on cells obtained from trophectoderm biopsy on post-fertilization day 5. Only euploid embryos were designated for cryopreservation. Patients in group B (n=48) had embryos assessed by morphology alone, with only good morphology embryos considered suitable for cryopreservation.
Results
Among biopsied embryos in group A (n=425), euploidy was confirmed in 226 (53.1%). After fresh single embryo transfer, 64 (28.3%) surplus euploid embryos were cryopreserved for 51 patients (92.7%). In group B, 389 good morphology blastocysts were identified and a single top quality blastocyst was selected for fresh transfer. All group B patients (48/48) had at least one blastocyst remaining for cryopreservation. A total of 157 (40.4%) blastocysts were frozen in this group, a significantly larger proportion than was cryopreserved in group A (p=0.017, by chi-squared analysis).
Conclusion
While aCGH and subsequent frozen embryo transfer are currently used to screen embryos, this is the first investigation to quantify the impact of aCGH specifically on embryo cryopreservation. Incorporation of aCGH screening significantly reduced the total number of cryopreserved blastocysts compared to when suitability for freezing was determined by morphology only. IVF patients should be counseled that the benefits of aCGH screening will likely come at the cost of sharply limiting the number of surplus embryos available for cryopreservation.
doi:10.5653/cerm.2012.39.2.52
PMCID: PMC3398117  PMID: 22816070
Fertilization in vitro; Comparative genomic hybridization; Preimplantation genetic diagnosis; Cryopreservation
6.  Selection of single blastocysts for fresh transfer via standard morphology assessment alone and with array CGH for good prognosis IVF patients: results from a randomized pilot study 
Background
Single embryo transfer (SET) remains underutilized as a strategy to reduce multiple gestation risk in IVF, and its overall lower pregnancy rate underscores the need for improved techniques to select one embryo for fresh transfer. This study explored use of comprehensive chromosomal screening by array CGH (aCGH) to provide this advantage and improve pregnancy rate from SET.
Methods
First-time IVF patients with a good prognosis (age <35, no prior miscarriage) and normal karyotype seeking elective SET were prospectively randomized into two groups: In Group A, embryos were selected on the basis of morphology and comprehensive chromosomal screening via aCGH (from d5 trophectoderm biopsy) while Group B embryos were assessed by morphology only. All patients had a single fresh blastocyst transferred on d6. Laboratory parameters and clinical pregnancy rates were compared between the two groups.
Results
For patients in Group A (n = 55), 425 blastocysts were biopsied and analyzed via aCGH (7.7 blastocysts/patient). Aneuploidy was detected in 191/425 (44.9%) of blastocysts in this group. For patients in Group B (n = 48), 389 blastocysts were microscopically examined (8.1 blastocysts/patient). Clinical pregnancy rate was significantly higher in the morphology + aCGH group compared to the morphology-only group (70.9 and 45.8%, respectively; p = 0.017); ongoing pregnancy rate for Groups A and B were 69.1 vs. 41.7%, respectively (p = 0.009). There were no twin pregnancies.
Conclusion
Although aCGH followed by frozen embryo transfer has been used to screen at risk embryos (e.g., known parental chromosomal translocation or history of recurrent pregnancy loss), this is the first description of aCGH fully integrated with a clinical IVF program to select single blastocysts for fresh SET in good prognosis patients. The observed aneuploidy rate (44.9%) among biopsied blastocysts highlights the inherent imprecision of SET when conventional morphology is used alone. Embryos randomized to the aCGH group implanted with greater efficiency, resulted in clinical pregnancy more often, and yielded a lower miscarriage rate than those selected without aCGH. Additional studies are needed to verify our pilot data and confirm a role for on-site, rapid aCGH for IVF patients contemplating fresh SET.
doi:10.1186/1755-8166-5-24
PMCID: PMC3403960  PMID: 22551456
7.  Folic acid and human reproduction—ten important issues for clinicians 
This article presents data on the current best evidence-based clinical practices and controversies surrounding folic acid supplementation/fortification for the prevention of neural tube defects (NTDs) during early pregnancy. Formatted as a series of ten clinical questions, answers and extensive discussion are provided for each point. We assess the history and evidence behind supplementation and fortification, racial/ethnic disparities in NTDs on a global scale, and present information on risk factors for NTDs other than dietary folic acid deficiency. Also discussed are public health challenges, including disparities in NTD rates, population-wide monitoring of NTDs, and tracking safety data in the post-fortification era. Emerging data are also reviewed regarding the role folic acid may play in malignant processes, cardiovascular disease, male fertility, and other medical conditions.
PMCID: PMC3183498  PMID: 21991291

Results 1-7 (7)