The Embryoscope has gained a lot of attention as of late regarding its “superior” benefits over more traditional, larger embryo incubators and culture systems. While the utility of this type of system is still being researched and explored, as with any newer technology, it is important to understand exactly how this technology affects your chances of having a successful outcome right now.
8 Key Questions to Ask Your IVF Clinic From Mike Lee, MS, TS, ELD (ABB) Director of Laboratory Services at Fertility Solutions
1**. What kind of incubator system were you using before you started with the time lapse system? **Time lapse systems tend to be smaller, “bench top” incubators. The size and recovery of smaller incubators have been shown to improve embryo quality and pregnancy rates. What percentages of embryos in the clinic are cultured in these smaller systems? How do the clinics own pregnancy rates compare between these two systems?
At Fertility Solutions we use small bench-top incubators exclusively, because we believe this offers the embryos the most stable environment in which to grow.
2**. What is the impact of taking photos of my embryos (which exposes the embryo to a “flash” of light for each photo)**? There are some studies to suggest that certain wave lengths of light are detrimental to embryos.
3**. Do you use a different culture media in the Embryoscope than you do in your other incubators, or did you change media to accommodate the time lapse system?**A change in culture media may equate with better embryo quality and pregnancy rates by itself.
4**. Do you expect to do a day 3 or day 5 embryo transfers from my embryos in the Embryoscope? **The majority of studies that show increased pregnancy rates in the Embryoscope are from day 3 embryo transfer, which has been shown to have a lower pregnancy rate overall than day 5 transfer.
5**. Has your clinic developed its own “lab specific” time lapse selection model? **These models are developed over time and are specific to each laboratory. One lab can not adopt the formula of another lab and predictably get the same results.
6**. How long has the Embryoscope been used in human IVF and how many clinics in the world and the US use them clinically? **There are fewer than 300 units in use in the world, whereas other incubators are installed in thousands of clinics worldwide and have a proven track record.
7**. Who evaluates the photos of your embryos?**
- Is the person evaluating the photos to do the selection a qualified, trained embryologist whom has specific training in embryo cell division criteria?
- Are they using a criterion that has been proven in your laboratory to improve embryo selection?
8**. How does the clinic decide whose embryos will be placed in the Embryoscope incubator? **
- Will it cost me “extra” to have my embryos incubated in the Embryoscope?
- Will my embryos be treated as second class citizens if they are incubated in your “other” incubators?
- Why aren’t all patients embryos treated the same way and put into these incubators if they truly produce better results?At Fertility Solutions, we feel that this time lapse technology is an excellent and exciting research tool. Compared to smaller bench-top or micro-incubators the Embryoscope may not offer a distinct advantage at this time. However, scientists are actively working with this technology to help identify what benefits these units may offer all couples in the future.