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BJOG. 2011 Aug;118(9):1073-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.02966.x. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

Minimising twins in in vitro fertilisation: a modelling study assessing the costs, consequences and cost-utility of elective single versus double embryo transfer over a 20-year time horizon.

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Health Economics Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK.



To assess the cumulative costs and consequences of double embryo transfer (DET) or elective single embryo transfer (eSET) in women commencing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment aged 32, 36 and 39 years.


Microsimulation model.


Three assisted reproduction centres in Scotland.


A total of 6153 women undergoing treatment at one of three Scottish IVF clinics, between January 1997 and June 2007.


A microsimulation model, populated using data inputs derived from a large clinical data set and published literature, was developed to compare the costs and consequences of using eSET or DET over multiple treatment cycles.


Disability-free live births; twin pregnancy rate; women's quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs); health service costs.


Not only did DET produce a higher cumulative live birth rate compared with eSET for women of all three ages, but also a higher twin pregnancy rate. Compared with eSET, DET ranged from costing an additional £ 27,356 per extra live birth in women commencing treatment aged 32 years, to costing £ 15,539 per extra live birth in 39-year-old women. DET cost ∼ £ 28,300 and ∼ £ 20,300 per additional QALY in women commencing treatment aged 32 and 39 years, respectively.


Considering the high twin pregnancy rate associated with DET, coupled with uncertainty surrounding QALY gains, eSET is likely to be the preferred option for most women aged ≤ 36 years. The cost-effectiveness of DET improves with age, and may be considered cost-effective in some groups of older women. The decision may best be considered on a case-by-case basis for women aged 37-39 years.

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