How is GIFT performed?
The procedure is carried out as a day case surgery under a general anaesthetic, and involves making three small cuts in the abdomen. Fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries, monitoring is also carried out as with IVF treatment. Eggs may be collected either by a vaginal ultrasound scan or laparoscopically using a fine needle and gentle suction.
Once the eggs are collected, they are examined under the microscope for quality. The best eggs are then mixed with washed and prepared sperm in a small volume of culture medium. The end of the fallopian tube is grasped gently and a guided fine canula is passed through the fimbrial end of the tube. The mixture of the eggs and sperm is then deposited into the Fallopian tube.
Gamete intra-Fallopian transfer (GIFT) procedures are not regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in the United Kingdom (provided that no donor eggs or donor sperm are used). Up to three of the best quality eggs, if you are below the age of 40, or up to four eggs if you are over 40 are then mixed with the prepared sperm. Any spare eggs that are collected may be fertilized in-vitro and the resulting embryos are frozen (if they are of good quality to freeze) for later embryo replacement.
More recently, attempts have been made to simplify the procedure by collecting the eggs by vaginal ultrasound and injecting the egg and sperm mixture into the tube via the cervix using a special catheter. The procedure is usually performed under ultrasound guidance. The reported pregnancy rates with this method are less than that with conventional laparoscopy GIFT.
After the GIFT procedure, the patient is usually given hormonal supplements, in the form of tablets, pessaries, gel or injection to help the implantation of embryos.