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Reprod Biomed Online. 2008 Jun;16(6):801-7.

Blood clots in the cumulus-oocyte complex predict poor oocyte quality and post-fertilization development.

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Landes-, Frauen- und Kinderklinik, IVF-Unit, Linz, Upper Austria, Austria.


Assessment of oocyte maturity and quality (morphological appearance) at the time of retrieval is difficult as the egg is obscured by a large cumulus mass that hinders adequate scoring. Since no data are available on the possible relationship between the cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) and oocyte morphology, this prospective intracytoplasmic sperm injection study was set up in 87 consecutive patients. COC were grouped according to expansion of both corona radiata and cumulus matrix. Special emphasis was placed on recording morphological anomalies of COC (inclusion of blood clots and amorphous clumps). For all mature ovae, quality was assessed and preimplantation development followed up to blastocyst stage if fertilized. The risk of not harvesting an oocyte was higher in COC with blood clots compared with normal cumulus matrices (P = 0.004). COC expansion did not allow for prediction of either nuclear status or quality of the egg. The presence of blood clots within the cumulus matrix was associated with reduced oocyte quality (dense central granulation), fertilization rate and blastocyst formation, compared with unaffected COC (P < 0.05). It may be postulated that COC showing blood inclusions derive from poor quality follicles, which has a detrimental effect on oocyte quality and further cleavage to blastocyst stage. Consequently, mechanical removal of blood clots cannot rescue the corresponding embryo.

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