Embryo reduction in triplet pregnancies after assisted procreation: A comparative study

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Objectives: To evaluate pregnancy outcome after selective embryo reduction by transcervical aspiration or transvaginal puncture and intrathoracal injection with potassium chloride (KCl) in triplet pregnancies occurring after assisted procreation and to compare this outcome with that for triplets not undergoing embryo reduction. Design: Retrospective case series. Setting: In vitro fertilization program of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine of the Dutch-speaking Brussels Free University, Belgium, which is a tertiary referral institution. Patients: Seventy-two patients presenting a triplet pregnancy after assisted procreation. Intervention: Transcervical aspiration embryo reduction at 8 to 9 weeks of pregnancy or transvaginal puncture and intrathoracal injection of KCl at 9 to 10 weeks of pregnancy. Main Outcome Measures: Rate of spontaneous embryo reduction, complications relating to the procedure, pregnancy, and neonatal outcome. Results: The rate of spontaneous reduction was 18%. Among the 14 patients undergoing transcervical aspiration, 3 aborted and 4 lost an additional fetus. The transvaginal puncture technique had a lower complication rate (2/19). Neonatal outcome was improved in pregnancies after selective embryo reduction. After transvaginal puncture, the outcome was comparable with that for twin pregnancies after assisted procreation. Conclusions: Triplet pregnancies after assisted procreation had a poor neonatal outcome. The outcome was improved after spontaneous reduction. Transcervical aspiration should not be used because of its high rate of early and late complications. Transvaginal puncture had less early complications, but the technique might be associated with prematurity and third trimester fetal death. In triplet pregnancies, embryo reduction decreases the number of babies going home per patient, but the quality of life of the remaining babies is improved.




Bollen, N., Camus, M., Tournaye, H., Wisanto, A., Van Steirteghem, A. C., & Devroey, P. (1993). Embryo reduction in triplet pregnancies after assisted procreation: A comparative study. Fertility and Sterility, 60(3), 504–509. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0015-0282(16)56168-8

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