The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publish the national success rates of Advanced Reproductive Technologies (ART), mostly IVF, in the US. These are published by state and by clinic (for those of us that are members and elect to report).
Issues that a patient should be aware
There are a couple of issues that a patient need be aware. For instance, the data is published 3 years late. In this modern day of instant electronic record keeping and data sharing, this seems appallingly slow. The other big issue is what the results don’t tell you. For instance, a clinic/doctor may do all they can to “pad” their statistics to make them look better than they might otherwise be.
As an example, we know that women with a high FSH or decreased antral follicle count are going to have a lower chance of success in any given age group. Some clinics may not allow those patients to pursue IVF but rather insist egg donation (or other) in those “tough” cases. Nowhere in the SART data does it allow reporting that degree of detail.
Another example is prior IVF failures. In Acacio Fertility Center, we treat many patients that have already failed IVF elsewhere. Again, this is nowhere in the SART data. We are fortunate that we have among the highest success rates even taking on these “toughest” cases, but on the surface the reporting results would not reveal this.
Then there is the whole issue of gender selection or other non-infertility treatments with ART (IVF). All fertility specialists know/understand that non-infertile patients (those seeking gender balance or other elective procedures) have a higher chance of success compared to an infertile patient. Again, this is nowhere in the SART data.
Making a valid comparison: know what you are looking for
When reviewing SART data, the category that is most “apples to apples” meaning comparable among fertility clinics is egg donation. If a fertility clinic has low success rates with egg donor cycles, run for the hills! This should simply be the highest category for success in almost every clinic. It is the one category that speaks volumes of the physician’s capabilities and the laboratory’s.
Reading the data from SART
As everyone understands, the success rates in ART are almost always age-dependent. Since infertility treatment is a very personalized service, patients can benefit from a set of objective criteria when they evaluate prospective infertility specialists. Here are a few suggestions:
Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) has a national database of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) success rates. SART is the primary organization of professionals dedicated to the practice of assisted reproductive technologies in the United States. Their mission is to establish and help maintain the standards for infertility clinics.
One important function of SART is the publication of statistics compiled from those infertility clinics participating in the voluntary data registry for mutual accountability. The publication usually has a 2 years lag time.
The majority of summary reports published pertain to IVF, with diagnoses including diminished ovarian reserve, tubal factor, factors attributed to male, factors attributed to female, endometriosis etc. A large proportion are from fresh embryos from non-donor eggs. Percentages are reported in 5 age categories: under 35 years old, 36-37, 38-40, 41-42, and greater than 42.
Patients deserve the transparency of knowing exactly their personal infertility specialist's performance data. Acacio Fertility Center's patients appreciate the added assurance of Acacio Fertility Center's voluntary reporting to national and professional registries. After all, without accountability, success rates are mere claims.