IVI, THE CREATOR AND DEVELOPER OF THE EMBRYOSCOPE
IVI is the first clinic in the world to use this technique, and as a result it is the first centre to achieve the birth of a baby selected in this way. As the creator and partner, together with UNISENSE and LD Pensions, of Unisense Fertilitech, the company which manufactures and develops the Embryoscope, any improvements, advances and new developments made to the Embryoscope are implemented immediately and exclusively in our clinics
WHAT IS IT?
The Embryoscope is an advanced incubator which allows the embryo to be observed minute by minute from the point when in vitro fertilisation
takes place to the moment when it is transferred into the uterus. This brand new technique, based on the conventional incubators used in clinical embryology laboratories, includes an image capture system which allows an enormous amount of specific and objective information to be obtained for every embryo, which up until now could not be recorded. This allows us to find out new information about the embryos in a non-invasive way, as it avoids the need for taking the embryo out of the incubator to assess its development, improving the selection criteria and, as a result, pregnancy rates.
WHAT DOES EMBRYO SELECTION INVOLVE?
Traditionally, approximations for identifying the best embryos prior to transfer were essentially based on a morphological evaluation; obviously, these observations provided indications which supported the skill of the embryologist when it came to selecting an embryo for transfer.
The definition of what represents a "perfect embryo" and the choice of those with the best potential for implantation are still very imprecise concepts, and the ability (or lack of ability) to estimate embryo competence correctly has become a critical point of the process. As a result, the selection options and strategies used will depend on all of the information that we can find out about the embryo.
The morphological and growth criteria which are currently used for evaluating embryo viability on day 3 either underestimate or overestimate their potential for development. In light of the uncertainty associated with the morphological examination on day 3, some reproduction centres have opted for a longer cultivation period for evaluating embryo competence. While the morphological examination method has the advantage of being simple, non-invasive and quick, it has the disadvantage of being highly subjective and requiring specialised training and a certain degree of experience, and there is little hope for its standardisation.
With the embryoscope we can carry out a study of the kinetics of development. The relationship between the speed of cell division and embryo competence is becoming a valid alternative for selecting the embryos which have the best potential for implantation. We know that the time which elapses between fertilisation and the first cell division is a parameter which is objective and easy to determine, and that it has a predictive value in terms of embryo viability. This image analysis system provides us with a series of benefits, one of which is knowing exactly when cell divisions occur.
Using this information we have been able to learn that there are optimum division periods in which embryos have more than a 20% probability of implanting, as shown in the following graph.
ADVANTAGES OF THE EMBRYOSCOPE IN RELATION TO TRADITIONAL INCUBATORS
The Embryoscope represents a technological revolution in the field of embryology. It allows us to carry out a more personalised evaluation of the embryo in real time, and to know which is the best embryo for transfer, and when. Continuous image capture for every embryo is recorded as a video, allowing embryos to be monitored fully and obtaining all of the details which emerge during their development. The advantages compared to other incubators are as follows:
1. It improves embryo selection
This image analysis system provides us with a series of benefits, one of which is knowing exactly when cell divisions occur. Using this information we have been able to learn that there are optimum division periods in which embryos have more than a 20% probability of implanting, as shown in the following graph. Time-lapse technology provides embryologists with a much more powerful decision-making system, which is based on the actual condition of the embryo and on the process of embryo development.
2. It improves embryo culture and manipulation conditions
The possibility of making observations using time-lapse has been around for decades; however, technical, financial and conceptual complications have hindered its use. The new generation of systems which combine an incubator and a microscope offer the chance to describe the morphological characteristics of embryos without the need for removing them from the optimum gas and temperature conditions found inside the incubator. This reduces the environmental stress experienced by the embryo, which results in improved embryo competence and higher pregnancy rates.
3. It gives the parents-to-be more information about the embryo
The incorporation of image analysis technology enables us not only to establish the duration of cell divisions but also to confirm the critical observations made previously.
It is important to point out that in this type of incubator the embryos are periodically exposed to light, at the point when the digital images are taken. This exposure of the embryo to light creates an additional stress factor which can affect embryo development. In spite of the risks that this involves, the embryos are exposed to LED-type light for less than 50 seconds per day, which explains the lack of significant differences in the results of the parameters evaluated between embryos which are cultivated in a time-lapse system and embryos which are subjected to periodic observations in a conventional incubator.
4. It provides a record on film of the beginning of the future baby's life
It provides a record in pictures and videos of the very beginning of your future baby's life. This pioneering technique allows embryo cell division to be viewed on a monitor in real time, capturing moments from the beginning of life.
IT INCREASES THE CHANCES OF BECOMING PREGNANT
This technology eliminates the need for removing the embryo from the incubator, which increases the chances of pregnancy as there is no need to handle the embryo. The latest data obtained here at IVI from more than 1600 assisted reproduction procedures carried out using the Embryoscope indicate that this device improves the chances of a clinical pregnancy by an average of 8%. These records could vary depending on the clinical characteristics of the patient.
WHICH PATIENTS CAN USE THE EMBRYOSCOPE?
In theory this technology can be applied to any type of patient undergoing an assisted reproduction
treatment, although the chances of an improvement in the results are greatest among patients who generate more embryos because there is a better possibility for selection.
THE FIRST PHOTO OF YOUR BABY
An incubator capable of recording a film which provides a record in pictures and videos of the very beginning of your future baby's life. This pioneering technique allows embryo cell division to be viewed on a monitor in real time, capturing moments from the beginning of life.