American IVF clinics may be overusing a technique for fertilising patients’ eggs to create embryos, costing couples and some insurers hundreds of extra dollars. , the technique, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was originally developed to help men with defective sperm or low sperm counts by injecting a single sperm into an egg. However, many clinics are now using it for other infertile couples.
“This paper is particularly troubling because we’ve got a major shift in practice that isn’t evidence driven,” says bioethicist Arthur Caplan, of the University of Pennsylvania. “The paper suggests that it may be driven by money.” The research team reviewed a decade of IVF and found that ICSI treatments had risen from 11% in 1995 to 58% in 2004. However, the incidence of male infertility had remained the same, at about 34%. Not only does the technique cost about US$1,500 more, but it is not quite as effective as standard IVF.
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