Fertility technologies and how to optimize laboratory performance to support the shortening of time to birth of a healthy singleton: a Delphi consensus

Coticchio G, Behr B, Campbell A, Meseguer M, Morbeck D E, Pisaturo V, Plancha C E, Sakkas D, Xu Y, D'Hooghe T, Cottell E, Lundin K,
J Assist Reprod Genet. 18-Feb. 2021 doi: 10.1007/s10815-021-02077-5
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PURPOSE: To explore how the assisted reproductive technology (ART) laboratories can be optimized and standardized to enhance embryo culture and selection, to bridge the gap between standard practice and the new concept of shortening time to healthy singleton birth. METHODS: A Delphi consensus was conducted (January to July 2018) to assess how the ART laboratory could be optimized, in conjunction with existing guidelines, to reduce the time to a healthy singleton birth. Eight experts plus the coordinator discussed and refined statements proposed by the coordinator. The statements were distributed via an online survey to 29 participants (including the eight experts from step 1), who voted on their agreement/disagreement with each statement. Consensus was reached if >/= 66% of participants agreed/disagreed with a statement. If consensus was not achieved for any statement, that statement was revised and the process repeated until consensus was achieved. Details of statements achieving consensus were communicated to the participants. RESULTS: Consensus was achieved for all 13 statements, which underlined the need for professional guidelines and standardization of lab processes to increase laboratory competency and quality. The most important points identified were the improvement of embryo culture and embryo assessment to shorten time to live birth through the availability of more high-quality embryos, priority selection of the most viable embryos and improved cryosurvival. CONCLUSION: The efficiency of the ART laboratory can be improved through professional guidelines on standardized practices and optimized embryo culture environment, assessment, selection and cryopreservation methodologies, thereby reducing the time to a healthy singleton delivery.