Sheffield Teaching Hospitals to test new treatments for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a potential side effect of fertility treatment

Researchers from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been awarded a major multi-million grant which aims to develop and test new and cost-effective treatments that could provide better treatment for women with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a potential side effect of fertility treatment.

The groundbreaking trial will be led by Jessop Wing, a part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, across 20 UK-wide fertility units. It is being funded through the National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR’s) prestigious Health Technology programme which aims to demonstrate the broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care from the NHS.

The £1.78m funding is the second consecutive Health Technology Assessment programme awarded to this research team at the Jessop Wing in the past few years, and confirms its status as the UK’s leading centre for pioneering innovative research that aims to improve the care of women undergoing fertility treatment.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome affects as many as 33 in 100 women. In the majority of cases, symptoms are mild, causing mild abdominal swelling, discomfort and nausea, and will recede quickly.

However, in three to eight per cent of these women, symptoms can worsen; leading to more serious complications which require admission to hospital. This study seeks to identify new ways to stop the condition from worsening and prevent the need for women to require inpatient hospitalisation.

Initially the research team will develop novel protocols for the early treatment of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome to be used in an outpatient setting. These novel treatments include techniques to drain fluid that collects as a side effect of the condition from the abdomen and the use of a drug known as ‘antagonist’ which may be beneficial in shortening the course of the condition.

Once this piece of work is complete, a randomised controlled clinical trial will be available to women who develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which will give them the opportunity to receive one of these treatments in an outpatient setting.

Mr Mostafa Metwally, a Consultant Gynaecologist and Sub-specialist in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Jessop Fertility and Chief Investigator of the trial, said: “We are delighted to be leading this transformational research into the management of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a potentially serious side effect of assisted reproductive treatments caused by overstimulation in the ovaries.

“This trial is a potential game-changer in the way women with this condition are treated, as earlier and quicker interventions could prevent the need for women to be admitted to hospital. As well as being much better for both women and their families, it could also save the NHS an estimated £2.62million in inpatient hospital admissions per year because the care could be provided in an outpatient setting.”

This research study is collaboration between specialists at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, including doctors and nurses at the Jessop Wing and researchers at the University of Sheffield’s Clinical Trials Research Unit as well as colleagues from other fertility units around the country.

Clare Pye, Lead Research Nurse and 70@70 Senior Nurse Research Leader at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said “We’ve worked immensely hard to secure this funding and feel this is largely due to the successful collaboration between our colleagues at the University of Sheffield’s Clinical Trials Research Unit, clinicians and nurses as well as the strong contribution of the Sheffield Reproductive Health Research Public Advisory Panel at the Jessop Wing. The panel are instrumental in helping us design and run research studies our patients want, and ensure the care we give is the best it can be, is evidenced-based and guarantees the needs of our patients remain at the centre of everything we do.

“Women undergoing IVF are monitored on a daily basis, so by offering quicker and earlier management to this group of women, fertility units across the country are uniquely placed to better manage women’s care at this all important time.”

The five-year study will begin in December this year.

The Trust was previously awarded a £1.2m grant from the National Institute for Health Research to determine whether endometrial scratching should be offered routinely to all women having their first IVF treatment cycle. The results of this large multi-centre study are due summer 2020.