Revised guidelines for good practice in IVF laboratories (2015)

The ESHRE Guideline Group on Good Practice in IVF Labs, De los Santos MJ, Apter S, Coticchio G, Debrock S, Lundin K, Plancha CE, Prados F, Rienzi L, Verheyen G, Woodward B, Vermeulen N.

Human Reproduction, Volume 31, Issue 4, Pp. 685-686 – Received December 18, 2015. Revision received December 18, 2015. Accepted January 11, 2016.  Epub 2016 Feb 17.


STUDY QUESTION: Which recommendations can be provided by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology Special Interest Group (ESHRE SIG) Embryology to support laboratory specialists in the organization and management of IVF laboratories and the optimization of IVF patient care?

SUMMARY ANSWER: Structured in 13 sections, the guideline development group formulated recommendations for good practice in the organization and management of IVF laboratories, and for good practice of the specific procedures performed within the IVF laboratory.


STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: The guideline was produced by a group of 10 embryologists representing different European countries, settings and levels of expertise. The group evaluated the document of 2008, and based on this assessment, each group member rewrote one or more sections. Two 2-day meetings were organized during which each of the recommendations was discussed and rewritten until consensus within the guideline group was reached. After finalizing the draft, the members of the ESHRE SIG embryology were invited to review the guideline.


MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: The guideline provides recommendations on the general organization of an IVF laboratory (staffing and direction, quality management, laboratory safety), and on the specific aspects of the procedures performed in IVF laboratories (Identification of patients and traceability of their reproductive cells, consumables, handling of biological material, oocyte retrieval, sperm preparation, insemination of oocytes, scoring for fertilization, embryo culture and transfer, and cryopreservation). A last section provides recommendations regarding an Emergency plan for IVF laboratories.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Evidence on most of the issues described is scarce, and therefore it was decided not to perform a formal search for and assessment of scientific evidence. However, recommendations published in the EUTCD and relevant and recent documents, manuals and consensus papers were taken into account when formulating the recommendations.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Despite the limitations, the guideline group is confident that this document will be helpful to directors and managers involved in the management and organization of IVF laboratories, but also to embryologists and laboratory technicians performing daily tasks.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS: The guideline was developed and funded by ESHRE, covering expenses associated with the guideline meetings. The guideline group members did not receive payment. Dr Coticchio reports speaker’s fees from IBSA and Cook, outside the submitted work; Dr Lundin reports grants from Vitrolife, personal fees from Merck Serono, non-financial support from Unisense, outside the submitted work; Dr. Rienzi reports personal fees from Merck Serono, personal fees from MSD, grants from GFI, outside the submitted work; the other authors had nothing to disclose.


KEYWORDS: ESHRE; Embryology; IVF guidelines; good practice; laboratory; special interest group