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Objectives 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. Design Microsimulation model. Setting Three assisted reproduction centres in Scotland. Sample A total of 6153 women undergoing treatment at one of three Scottish IVF clinics, between January 1997 and June 2007. Methods 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. Main outcome measures Disability-free live births; twin pregnancy rate; women's quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs); health service costs. Results 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. Conclusions 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. © 2011 RCOG.

Original publication




Journal article


BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Publication Date





1073 - 1083