Improve IVF treatment through better embryo selection
The EmbryoScope is an incubator for the embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF). The EmbryoScope takes photos of the developing embryos every 10 minutes. These images provide important information about the health and quality of the embryos that can be used to determine which ones are most likely to result in a successful pregnancy. The improved embryo selection offered by the EmbryoScope appears to result in a higher rate of IVF success. In our clinic we have observed a 10-25% improvement in pregnancy rates when using this system.
How does it work
The procedure of oocyte retrieval
The next step, after the stimulation of the follicles, is the oocyte retrieval that is performed by transvaginal monitoring of the follicles under continuous ultrasound check. The doctor using a puncture needle removes the eggs from the follicles. The follicular fluid is quickly delivered to embryologists who search for the eggs with the help of a microscope. Finally, embryologists inform about the number of oocytes that have been collected. Retrieval, although it is a short process, it is carried out with mild sedation (analgesia). Consequently, for safety reasons, women who are about to perform this procedure, should be completely fast since midnight on the previous day.
Collection and processing of the semen
On the day of the egg selection, the semen is collected and processed. For better sperm quality, abstinence from sexual intercourse is recommended 2-3 days before the oocyte retrieval. The semen is, then, subjected to a special treatment in order to isolate the sperm with the highest mobility in small volumes. This process activates the sperm cells and enables them to fertilize the eggs. It should be noted that the sperm collection, the planned day, often causes anxiety in men; a situation that usually creates difficulty in its collection. In order to avoid such a case, the wife can be present and the sample can be collected from his home or, in special circumstances, even freeze his semen a few days before the procedure. In cases of azoospermia (no sperm in ejaculation), it is possible to take the sperm directly from the testis by biopsy on the day of the egg collection or use donor’s sperm.
In Vitro Fertilization
Some hours after the egg retrieval and proper sperm processing, the ova and the sperm come in contact. This can be performed in two ways. In simple IVF, the ova are simply placed in a high concentration of spermatozoa. One of these will fertilize the egg by penetrating its outer membrane, and a follow-up test is done the next day. In cases where sperm quality is not good, micro-fertilization (ICSI) is performed. During micro-fertilization, a sperm is placed in an egg with a microtropic microscope. The eggs are then placed in special dishes in lab. The next morning, fertilization is controlled by embryologists. The existence of two pronuclei (small round formations) at the center of the ovum indicate the achievement of the normal fertilization. The fertilization rate in the laboratory ranges from 50% to 100%. The status of oocytes (degree of maturity, cytoplasm nature), sperm fertilization capacity, egg and sperm quality, as well as the way the laboratory manages and cultivates the biological material, are some of the responsible factors for the fluctuation of the above percentage. The EmbryoScope is a special type of incubator which supplies the ideal nutritional and environmental conditions for embryos to grow outside the uterus. With the EmbryoScope, the embryos stay in the incubator throughout the 3 to 5-day incubation period.
The EmbryoScope takes pictures of the embryo every ten minutes. These images are then strung together into a small-time lapse movie which distinguishes the time frame in which the development occurs. This allows an embryologist to monitor the cell divisions and development of each embryo constantly while the embryo is still safe in the incubator.
Being able to watch the embryos grow without exposing them to conditions outside the incubator is a huge benefit, but it is only the beginning. Learning algorithms are constantly searching the data for patterns, and growing evidence suggests that there are certain key time points in development that are tied to positive or negative results.
This means that the EmbryoScope can help an embryologist predict chromosomal abnormalities. It also tells the embryologist a lot about the further development and pregnancy potential of each embryo. These crucial time points can only be fully recorded with the help of the EmbryoScope’s time lapse camera.
Better pregnancy results
With the aid of this priceless information, the very best embryos can be selected for transfer, and patients can be given a significant amount of important information about the viability of the chosen embryos. For some patients, this improved selection process may make all the difference.