Endometrial scratching, also known as endometrial biopsy. What does it look like?
Endometrial scratching, also known as endometrial biopsy, is a procedure which may be useful in IVF treatment. But is it advised for everybody? What does it look like and what is the reason for using this technique?
3 experts answer 1 question in 3on1 #IVFANSWERS. To know more watch the series of 3 videos from our experts:
• Dr Hana Visnova, IVF Cube
• Dr Harry Karpouzis, IVF Pelargos
• Dr Monica Muñoz, Crea Assisted Reproduction Medical Center
Answer from Dr Visonva
The endometrial biopsy or endometrial scratching is a relatively new procedure. It consists of purposefully creating a small injury within the uterine lining. This injury starts a healing process; some studies suggest this process improves the chances of successful implantation. It can be done with various instruments – most commonly a pipelle catheter, which is a 3mm wide tube. It is inserted through the cervix; once inside, it is moved back and forth to disrupt the endometrium. At this stage, a small sample can also be obtained for later evaluation.
It’s a simple, low-cost procedure which only takes a couple of minutes. It’s usually well-tolerated by patients, although some may experience a minor degree of discomfort or pain. Possible risks include infection or uterine perforation, although the chances for that are negligible.
The results suggest there is a positive effect to endometrial scratching, although the available data is limited and may be biased due to the procedure’s fairly recent introduction. It cannot be conclusively stated that the procedure has a definite effect on the chances of pregnancy. The procedure is, however, extremely simple and the risk of harming the patient is minimal.
Answer from Dr Karpouzis
Several years ago, studies started coming out which showed that performing a biopsy on the recipient’s endometrium prior to the embryo transfer increased the chances of implantation. The mechanism behind that was not completely clear, even though a lot of studies showed improvements. Recently, however, a new, large study was published in the New England Medical Journal, which showed surprising results – apparently, endometrial scratching did not increase clinical pregnancy rates.
In my opinion, then, endometrial scratching is not something that needs to be done in every single IVF case, as it is an intrusive procedure which can cause discomfort, while offering minimal benefits and carrying the risk of causing a womb perforation. It should only be offered to those patients who previously experienced implantation failure with good quality embryos.
Answer from Dr Muñoz
Endometrial scratching, or endometrial biopsy, is a technique used to help embryos implant themselves following an ovarian stimulation or IVF. The scratch biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure which can be performed within a matter of minutes during a simple office visit. Gynaecologists collect a small sample from the uterus and use it to check for pathological changes. At the same time, the injury sustained during the biopsy stimulates endometrial receptivity.
It’s very important to perform the scratch at the right time – it should be done during the cycle before the transfer. We calculate the correct date by establishing the moment of the previous luteal phase of the cycle – around the twenty-first day of the cycle.
There are many studies that show increased pregnancy rates after an endometrial biopsy. An endometrial scratch during a non-transfer cycle improves the clinical and implantation rates in patients who previously experienced implantation failure.