What is it?
- Time-lapse embryo monitoring basically comprises equipment that allows embryologists to record the development of the embryos inside at timed intervals.
- By watching when and how the embryos divide it is possible to tell whether development is taking place normally.
- Without the embryo monitoring equipment embryologists are still able to view and record the embryo’s development. However, these activities will be undertaken at longer intervals, and information relating to exactly when the embryo divided will be missing.
- Also, it is necessary to remove the embryos from the incubator in order to inspect them. This in turn exposes them to a change in temperature and humidity which is not ideal.
Why Do I Need It?
Embryos containing the incorrect amount of chromosomes in each of their cells (known as aneuploidy) may divide abnormally even though they look normal to the naked eye.
Embryologists will grade embryos on the number of cells, their shape, level of fragmentation, the thickness of the outer shell, etc.
Without embryo monitoring, equipment embryologists may assess an aneuploid embryo to be normal and decide that it is suitable for transfer. But, of course, it may not be normal. If it is abnormal, it may not implant or may lead to a miscarriage. With embryo monitoring, an embryologist has lots of information on how the embryo divides, what it looks like whilst dividing, etc. This information can be used to assess whether a normal-looking embryo is indeed ‘normal’.
Time-lapse embryo monitoring can also sometimes determine early on which embryos are most likely to make it to the blastocyst stage. This may mean that we can transfer embryos earlier in the knowledge that the best ones have been chosen.
Does It Make a Difference?
Many studies have shown that time-lapse embryo monitoring can make a difference to the success rate. It is an added expense but if you can afford it then it may be a good option. Some clinics offer it for free as part of the standard package.
Different Types of Time-Lapse Embryo Monitoring Available
Currently, there are three types of equipment available for IVF clinics to use:
They differ by whether the embryos are put into a special incubator (the Embryoscope) and monitored there or whether the specialised equipment is fitted to the lab’s own incubators (PrimoVision and Eeva). The Eeva system has a special algorithm – a special formula – which it can use to predict which embryos may develop to the blastocyst stage. There are other technical differences too.
Time-Lapse embryo monitoring may be a big breakthrough in IVF and although it is quite expensive now, prices will probably come down. If you can afford it then it may be worth considering.