Advanced technology to choose the strongest embryo

Mora Mousa – IVF Quality Coordinator

During an IVF cycle embryos are created in the lab and only a few of them will be transferred to the patient. The embryologist will have to choose the best embryos to transfer. So, how to choose the strongest embryo? Which embryos are the strongest for implantation? Until a few years ago, embryo selection was based only on the embryologist’s subjectivity. Advanced techniques have been invented to help the embryologist to select the embryos with the highest potential.

Patients always ask embryologists if the embryo quality is good in order to achieve a pregnancy and have a healthy baby. Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered just by looking at the embryo. With the arrival of genetic testing, it has been made clear that a good quality embryo is not always a healthy embryo. There are cases in which a poor quality embryo is genetically normal or a high quality embryo is abnormal. With genetic testing, each good quality embryo is biopsied and one or two cells are removed. The cells are then processed in a Genetics lab to determine if the embryo is normal or abnormal in genetic constitution. Biopsy is performed by an experienced embryologist and has no impact on the further development of the embryo once it is complete. When the results are ready, then only the genetically normal embryos can be transferred to the patient.

Another advanced non-invasive technique that could also help in embryo selection is the Time Lapse Imaging Technology (e.g. Embryoscope). With time-lapse imaging, photographs of the embryos are taken in regular intervals allowing embryologists to have a detailed understanding of the embryo development. While this is done, embryos are not taken out of the incubator, so embryologists have a lot more information without disturbing the embryos. By not removing the embryos from the incubator, a better development is expected because every time an embryo is removed from the incubator, its conditions are altered, and it therefore has to use precious resources to maintain homeostasis with its environment.  In addition, with time lapse technology a lab can create an algorithm to coincide with implantation success. This algorithm could help embryologists to choose the best embryos.