What is EmbryoScope® time-lapse imaging?
The EmbryoScope® time-lapse imaging system combines the latest digital camera and incubator technology, allowing monitoring of the developing embryo from the time of fertilization to the transfer in the uterus. The sequence of images that are captured are saved and reverted in a detailed movie facilitating the process of embryo selection.
Embryo selection involves assessment of the first cell division (the time required for the first division of the fertilized egg at day 1), and each programmed cell division through to the 5-8-cell stage at day 3, or the stage of blastocyst at day 5.
Studying the timeline of these cell divisions along morphology gives us a detailed account of the competency of all the embryos in the dish, and in effect helps us to choose the ones with the best potential for implantation.
Who can benefit from the use of EmbryoScope® time-lapse imaging?
EmbryoScope® Time-Lapse imaging is the best way for selecting the most suitable embryo for transfer back in the womb, and therefore, we recommend its use in all of our cases.
It is of particular advantage for patients that undergo elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET) or euploide SET (eeSET), as choosing the best embryo will increase chances of a live birth.
It is also very helpful for patients that had previous unsuccessful attempts. The additional information that EmbryoScope® time-lapse imaging provides may be able to pinpoint whether there has been an underlying abnormality or other implication during the early development of the embryos.
How is EmbryoScope® time-lapse imaging done?
The EmbryoScope® Imaging System is handled by an embryologist. Twelve fertilized eggs (the developing embryos) are placed in a slide-type culture dish in the EmbryoScope® incubator, where the monitoring of the process starts.
Instead of a single ‘snap shot’ for each embryo, thousands of images are recorded and projected through a computer screen. These are studied by the embryologist either individually or collectively, ‘played’ as a movie. Compared to the conventional microscopic observation that only checks the developing embryos at certain time points, EmbryoScope® offers a continuous recording and the possibility to detect certain abnormalities that could be otherwise missed, if took place outside the pre-set time-checks.
With EmbryoScope® imaging, the embryos remain in the controlled environment of the incubator for much longer periods of time. They are only taken out for changing the media (the liquid in which they are growing). When the developing embryos are examined, the embryologist does not have to keep them under the microscope and out of the incubator, as it happens with conventional methods. The EmbryoScope® images are recorded, and therefore, accessible as many times as required for decisions to be taken.
How does the use of EmbryoScope® time-lapse imaging contribute to the success of assisted reproductive techniques?
Published results from the use of the EmbryoScope® imaging system across fertility clinics have shown an increase in live birth rates over conventional embryo culture systems.
It is important to note, however, that the only way to rule out hereditary chromosomal abnormalities in prospective embryos is by Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) and / or Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS). These genetic analyses can be performed to embryos cultured in the EmbryoScope® time-lapse system.