Embryoscope™ Embryo development time-lapse imaging
A new time-lapse technology called the Embryoscope™ involves culturing embryos in an incubator equipped with a special microscope, camera and computer. Available since 2011 it has already led to the birth of thousands of healthy babies. Each individual embryo is imaged separately and monitored every 15 minutes allowing subtle changes in development to be detected. This allows selection of embryos with the highest pregnancy potential – so-called morphokinetics.
Up to 70% of embryos appear normal when observed on a daily basis using older incubation systems yet do not go on to give successful pregnancy after transfer. The ability to more accurately select an embryo capable of pregnancy on the basis of the time-lapse imaging is an exciting development. It is also thought that embryos identified in this way are less likely to lead to early pregnancy loss than other systems and preliminary results are excellent.
At Oxford Fertility we offer embryo transfer 7 days a week. Embryos are usually transferred anytime between day 2 and day 5. Blastocyst transfer is a selection tool which helps us to identify the strongest embryo/s for transfer and is a good technique to use where more good quality embryos have developed by day 3 than are needed for transfer.
The success of IVF depends on many events, and implantation is one of the final hurdles. For successful implantation, the embryo must escape or “hatch” out of its outer shell (the zona pellucida). Once the embryo has hatched, it can make physical contact with the lining of the womb (the endometrium) and implantation can begin. If the embryo is unable to hatch from its zona pellucida, it won’t be able to implant successfully in the wall of the uterus.
Assisted hatching is a physical or chemical treatment carried out immediately before embryo transfer. It weakens an area of the zona pellucida with the aim of improving the chances of implantation. At Oxford Fertility we use a laser, as it is considered to be the safest and most accurate method.
We’d recommend assisted hatching in patients who meet one or more of the following criteria. We’ll also consider requests from patients who don’t, on a case-by-case basis:
- Repeated implantation failure (at least two previous transfers)
- Women who are 37 years and older
- Patients undergoing frozen embryo transfer
- Embryos with a thickened zona pellucida
It is shown in recent studies that an ‘endometrial scratch’ may improve implantation rates in patients who have had multiple failed IVF cycles, despite good quality embryos. Embryo implantation can often fail due to poor ‘endometrial receptivity’, and an endometrial scratch may help to improve the womb lining’s receptivity to an embryo. It’s a straightforward appointment. There is an ultrasound scan, and then a procedure similar to a smear test, where a catheter is inserted into the womb through the cervix, and used to lightly mark the womb lining. It’s suitable for patients trying to conceive in a natural cycle, as well as patients going through IVF cycles.
Hyaluranon is a naturally occurring substance present in follicles, tubes and cavity of the womb. Its effect is to make the fluid in these areas more viscous (sticky) and to encourage implantation of embryos.
Hyaluranon may also help to isolate mature sperm for use in ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) cycles helping to increase fertilisation rates.
To learn more about any of our advanced techniques, services and fertility treatment options, or to book an appointment with one of our consultants, please contact us.