Following either IVF insemination or ICSI, culture dishes containing the sperm, eggs, and growth media are placed into an incubator where the environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, light, and gas concentration) can be tightly controlled in order to mimic the conditions inside the woman’s fallopian tubes and uterus. Over the next five days, the embryologists at Presbyterian ARTs will monitor the embryos for fertilization and growth, reporting the progress back to Dr. Douglas and the couple. The embryologists will follow each egg for progress according to the laboratory protocol, disturbing the forming embryo as little a possible to allow for uninterrupted growth and maturation.
Laboratory Protocol for Observation of Embryos
Day 0: Day of retrieval; insemination and ICSI only
Day 1: Fertilization check; fertilization numbers are reported to Dr. Douglas and the couple
Day 2: No Observation
Day 3: Growth check and assessment for transfer
Day 4: No observation
Day 5: Growth check and assessment for transfer
IVF Treatment Information
During the growth process, several highly specialized laboratory techniques can be utilized to increase the chances for a successful pregnancy outcome. Both assisted hatching, as well as preimplantation genetic selection (PGS/PGD), can occur at this stage of the development process.
Assisted Hatching Protects Embryos and Boosts IVF Success Rates
As an egg matures within the follicle of an ovary, it develops a hard protective “shell” around it called the zona pellucida. This shell protects the egg, as well as the embryo, as it travels through the female reproductive tract until it reaches the uterus.
Once the embryo comes to rest in the uterus, on about day 5 or 6, the growing number of new cells in the embryo start to push outward and begin to thin the zona pellucida. Eventually, this process allows the embryo to hatch out of the zona and attach to the uterine wall. If this hatching process is not complete, the embryo will not attach to the uterus, and the pregnancy will not continue.
Some embryos may have difficulty with the natural hatching process and therefore never attach to the uterus.
IVF Plano Embryologists Can Help Increase the Chances for Implantation
Embryologists assist the hatching process by creating a small hole in the zona to help free the embryo on Day 3 of the IVF process. Fertility specialists employ two methods for assisted hatching:
Assisted Hatching with Acid Tyrode
The traditional method of assisted hatching involves a chemical solution, called acid tyrode. A very small concentration of acid tyrode is placed on the surface of the zona pellucida to open this outer covering, freeing the embryo for implantation.
Assisted Hatching with Laser Technology
In partnership with the fertility lab at Presbyterian ARTS, Dr. Douglas offers assisted hatching with laser technology. The same lasers that revolutionized surgery by providing a less invasive and more precise alternative to cutting now give embryologists the upper hand when performing assisted hatching in the lab.
As a leading edge medical advance, laser-assisted hatching better protects fragile embryos and minimizes the time the embryo lives outside the incubator. Precision lasers eliminate the need for acid and expedite the entire procedure. We also utilize laser technology in preimplantation genetic screening (PGS).
Embryos older than day 3 typically do not require assisted hatching because the cell mass within the shell is so large that it is already beginning to thin the zona and crack the shell on its own. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriage or previous failed attempts at IFV, assisted hatching may benefit you.
Contact IVF Plano to find out more about assisted hatching.