What Is Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer or ZIFT?

In these times of rising infertility levels, more and more couples are seeking the help of assisted reproductive technology to have children. In recent times, more and more babies are being born with the help of assisted reproductive procedures such as in vitro fertilization and gamete intrafallopian transfer.

Another type of assisted reproduction is zygote intrafallopian transfer or ZIFT. This is thought to be the most invasive form of assisted reproduction. It is similar to in vitro fertilization in that the embryo is fertilized in the lab. The zygote that results is then placed not in the uterus but in the fallopian tubes by use of laparoscopy.

ZIFT is different from GIFT and IVF


ZIFT is similar to another procedure called gamete intrafallopian transfer or GIFT. However, whereas ZIFT transfers the zygote or embryo formed from the union of the sperm and egg, GIFT transfers a sperm and egg mixture.

ZIFT is also different from IVF in that with ZIFT there is an additional procedure of laparoscopy involved for the transfer of the embryos.

When Is ZIFT used?

This is not a very commonly used procedure and may be used in only 1% of assisted births. If a woman has ovulation problems or her male partner has a low sperm count, this procedure can help. If other treatments have been tried and been unsuccessful, ZIFT may be opted for.

At least one fallopian tube of the woman should be open (not blocked) for this procedure to be considered. If a woman doesn’t have healthy tubes, this procedure is not usually considered. So, women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes are not good candidates for the procedure.

What is the procedure?

Firstly, the woman is administered medication to stimulate the ovaries so that ovulation may produce multiple eggs for harvesting. The eggs are aspirated (collected). Sometimes intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure may also be used in conjunction with this treatment.

The eggs collected are then fertilized in a lab dish using sperm. From among the fertilized eggs or embryos, only the healthiest embryos are selected for transfer back into the woman.

The embryos are transferred to the fallopian tubes within 24 hours (with IVF treatments this is done within 3 to 5 days). For this procedure, a catheter is used, through which the embryo is injected into the fallopian tube.

Since this is a more invasive procedure than some others, and its success rates are about the same as IVF, it is not a frequently used form of assisted reproduction.