Preimplantation Genetic Testing Gives IVF Couples Peace of Mind

DNA strand

June 18, 2019

The University of Kansas Health System offers preimplantation genetic testing for couples who are trying to conceive through in vitro fertilization (IVF). The preimplantation diagnosis, or single gene testing, identifies diseases and genetic defects within the embryo. It allows couples who are at risk of having a child with a genetic disorder to test for mutations before implantation.

The preimplantation genetic diagnosis process involves removing cells from the embryos, which are 5-6 days old. The DNA of the cells is tested to determine if a problematic gene is present. Once the preimplantation genetic testing is complete, embryos that are free of genetic problems can be implanted. Embryos shown to have mutated genes are not implanted. Matthew Goering, PhD, director of clinical embryology, believes preimplantation testing increases the likelihood of a successful pregnancy from any given IVF cycle.

About half of our patients use genetic testing before implantation with in vitro fertilization. Technology changes have increased the accuracy and success rates of IVF therapy. This means more babies for more people. – Matthew Goering, PhD

Director, clinical embryology

Dr. Goering also believes the preimplantation genetic diagnosis success rate is higher when a single embryo is transferred.

"Our advancing technology and IVF specialization mean we can now transfer just one embryo at a time, which has positive, measurable health benefits for the pregnancy and the babies that are born," he says.

While many couples can benefit from preimplantation genetic testing, it's important to understand there are risks involved. Because preimplantation genetic testing requires IVF, there is an increased chance of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a medical condition that can occur in women taking injectable hormone medications to stimulate egg growth in the ovaries. It causes the ovaries to become swollen and painful.

Additionally, there is also a risk of receiving false negative results. This could cause an abnormal embryo to be transferred to the uterus, which may result in a possible miscarriage. A test could also show there are no healthy embryos to transfer. That's why it's important to see one of the regional leaders in preimplantation genetic testing at The University of Kansas Health System to discuss the preimplantation genetic diagnosis pros and cons.

"Some say the success or failure of IVF treatment begins and ends in the laboratory," Dr. Goering says. "I believe it's more complicated than that, but without a good embryology team, the chances of successful pregnancy are limited. We're fortunate to be 1 of only 3 Centers of Excellence in the nation."

Explore more news, events and media