• * The center of assisted medical procreation of the CHU St Pierre is specialised in reproductive medicine. Reference center: quality label ISO 9001 obtained in 2008 and accredited by the AFMPS (Agence Fédérale des Médicaments et Produits de Santé).

Oocyte retrieval and embryo transfer

Oocyte retrieval is programmed 34 to 36 hours after the hCG injection. The patient is hospitalised for part of the day, until 14:00 in general.




Local anaesthetic

In our centre, 90 % of retrieval procedures are carried out under assisted local anaesthetic. This means that the patient is given an oral sedative and an intramuscular injection of a powerful painkiller just before entering the operating theatre.

Once settled, the patient is installed in the operating theatre. The perineal and vaginal areas are disinfected and the gynaecologist administers the local anaesthetic through 4 injections to the vaginal fornices. This is the most sensitive moment for the patient.

Retrieval is then performed under ultrasound guidance. The biologist present in the operating theatre can simultaneously visualise the presence of oocytes in the fluid which is aspirated from the follicles. This invasive, almost painless procedure lasts 5 to 20 minutes depending on the number of follicles produced by the ovaries.

The patient’s partner or any other person of the patient’s choice may be present.

An antibiotic can be given orally or intravenously if the patient shows any risk of infectious complications.


General anaesthetic

For anatomical or psychological reasons, which are generally rare, we sometimes perform oocyte retrieval under general anaesthetic.

In this case, pre-operative analyses and a consultation with an anaesthetist must be scheduled in advance. No-one may accompany the patient in the operating theatre.


Following surgery

Patients may experience minimal blood loss 2 to 3 days after retrieval. These uncomplicated abdominal pains occur quite frequently and can often be controlled with paracetamol. Their intensity is variable from one woman to another and is often proportional to the number of follicles produced. For this reason, the patient can be given a week off work as from the day of retrieval; her partner is provided with a doctor’s note. 


Two to 5 days after the retrieval, the embryo(s) is(are) transferred to the uterus in the operating theatre (for aseptic reasons and because of the proximity to the laboratory).

The maximum number of embryos that can be transferred depends on age and the number of attempts already carried out as defined by law. 


Regulated embryo transfer


Age Trial Nb 1 Trial Nb 2 Trial Nb 3…
< 36 1 1 ou 2
depending on quality
max 2
36 to 39 2 2 max 3
≥  40 no limit no limit no limit


The gynaecologist will discuss this point with the couple during their consultation while the treatment plan is being decided.

Technically, an ultrasound-guided catheter must be passed through the cervical canal to deposit the embryo(s) in the mid-portion of the uterine cavity. It is a pain-free procedure unless it is anatomically difficult to penetrate the cervix. The bladder must be full to facilitate the transfer. Therefore, we recommend that the bladder be emptied when the patient gets up and not again until the transfer has been carried out.

Once the embryo(s) is(are) caught between the two sides of the endometrium, there is no risk of it(them) falling out even if the patient stands up. The patient may therefore return to her normal activities immediately or after resting in an armchair in the day-care unit if she so wishes.





Plan du site CHU Saint Pierre - Bâtiment 200, 5è étage . Département de Gynécologie-Obstétrique

Centre de Fécondation In vitro - 322, Rue Haute - Bruxelles Tel +32(0)2 535 3406 Fax +32(0)2 535 3409