Embryo hatching after thaw

embryo hatching after thaw

Assisted Hatching

What is Assisted Hatching?

Assisted hatching is an additional procedure that can be performed in patients who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Once embryos are created using IVF (IVF process timeline), the embryo is surrounded by a hard outer layer of cells called the zona pellucida. You can think of this outer layer as the “shell” of the embryo. An embryo must break free of this “shell” in order to implant into the uterus and develop into a pregnancy.

Assisted hatching is a procedure where we can help the embryo “hatch” from its “shell” by creating a small crack in the zona pellucida. It is believed that assisted hatching can help an embryo implant in the uterus, leading to higher pregnancy rates in some patients.

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Before Assisted Hatching

Who are ideal candidates for assisted hatching?

Several factors can make someone a candidate for assisted hatching with in vitro fertilization.

. Patients who have experienced previous failed IVF cycles.

. Patients whose embryos are not developing as well as expected.

. Patients transferring frozen-thawed embryos – hardening of the zona pellucida has also been attributed to the freezing procedure.

. Patients with raised follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and reduced ovarian reserve.

. Patients older than 38 can all benefit from assisted hatching.

Since there are no known downsides, and the potential for increased implantation rates exists, we believe that all IVF patients can benefit from our advanced assisted hatching techniques.

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Risks

What are the risks associated with Assisted Hatching?

During the early stages of embryo development, the outer shell (zona pellucida) serves as a protective barrier against foreign bodies. As assisted hatching involves breaching the outer shell, there are some extremely small risks associated with this procedure. These include:

. The developing embryo being exposed to harmful chemicals and micro-organisms.

. Further embryonic development may be affected, or the cells within the embryo may be expelled through the drilled hole and thereby causing the embryo to perish.

. The process of laser hatching has a very small risk of cell damage due to localized heat being applied to facilitate the opening in the zona pellucida.

. There is also an additional small risk (2%) that this procedure could entrap the embryo during the hatching process causing monozygotic twins (identical).

During Assisted Hatching

Assisted Hatching Methods

You may assume that assisted hatching always involves making a small “break” or tear in the zona pellucida. But that’s not actually so. There are a few methods available, and every embryo lab approaches this differently.

There are pros and cons to every way, and the skill of the technician matters. Be sure you gather as much information as possible so that you can make an informed decision.

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. Mechanical hatching: With this technique, the embryologist keeps the embryo steady with the help of a pipette, while using a micro-needle to puncture through the zona pellucida, go just underneath the shell for a bit, and then come out the other end. (Imagine drawing a very thin line just alongside the embryo.) Then, the area between the two punctures is gently rubbed until a small tear occurs. It's difficult to control the size of the opening with this method.

. Mechanical expansion of the shell: With this technique, the zona pellucida is not broken open. Instead, hydrostatic pressure is introduced just under the shell, to cause it to expand. The idea for this method comes from the natural expansion of the outer shell during the hatching process.

. Chemical hatching: This technique involves using a chemical known as Tyrode’s solution. Tiny amounts of acid are applied to the zona pellucida until the shell is breached. Then, the embryo is quickly cleaned to avoid unnecessary acid exposure.

. Drilling: With drilling, vibratory movements are used to create a conical opening. This technique uses something known as Piezo technology.

. Laser-assisted hatching: Using a specialized laser to breach the zona pellucida is another possibility. Laser-assisted hatching allows much more control of the size of the hole created, more so than mechanical hatching with a needle (as described above).

Of all the methods, laser-assisted hatching may be the safest and most effective. However, not every embryology lab is equipped to perform this specific technology. Chemical hatching is more commonly used. With all of these methods, the skill and experience level of the embryologist can make a big difference.

What is Laser-assisted Hatching Process?

Here are the steps we use for the laser assisted egg hatching process:

  1. There are frequently several steps along the journey from egg retrieval to embryo transfer. The majority of IVF our cases are frozen embryo transfers, and most of our patients elect to have PGS performed. All of this happens before assisted hatching.
  2. Immediately prior to transfer, the embryo is moved to our micromanipulation station.
  3. We use an automated witnessing tool, called RI Witness, to verify that all laboratory procedures are performed on your embryo, virtually eliminating the risk of mixing up your embryo with another patient.
  4. Your embryo is then placed on the inverted microscope of the micromanipulation station, where our experienced embryologists determine the best location to perform laser assisted hatching.
  5. Using these measurements, the location, focus, and intensity of the laser adjusted to ensure minimal heat exposure of nearby cells.
  6. The laser creates perforations in the zona by vaporizing it. Typically, two or three laser pulses are delivered to create the gap.
  7. Once laser assisted hatching is complete, the embryo is returned to culture medium and placed in the incubator to await transfer.

 

How is assisted hatching performed using acid Tyrode’s solution?

  1. The embryo is held with a specialized holding pipette.
  2. A very delicate, hollow needle is used to expel the acidic solution against the outer “shell” (zona pellucida) of the embryo.
  3. A small hole is made in the shell by digesting it with the acidic solution.
  4. The embryo is then washed and put back in culture in the incubator.
  5. The embryo transfer procedure is done shortly after the hatching procedure.
  6. Embryo transfer places the embryos in the uterus where they will hopefully implant and develop to result in a birth.

After Assisted Hatching

Pregnancy rates

Pregnancy rates for in vitro fertilization procedures with assisted hatching have been shown in some published studies to be higher than for IVF without hatching. There is an improvement in the rate of embryo implantation and pregnancy in our IVF clinic with the use of assisted hatching. Apparently, this benefit is not seen in all IVF programs.

It is possible to damage embryos with hatching and lower the pregnancy rates. Therefore, it is essential that if assisted hatching is done, it must be expertly performed by properly trained embryologists.

The actual pregnancy and live birth rates seen in an individual IVF center will vary according to the hatching technique used, the overall quality of the laboratory, the skill of the individual performing the hatching, the embryo transfer skills of the physician, and other factors.

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10 common questions about embryo hatching after thaw

1How long does it take for embryos to thaw?
The cells (embryos in this case) are stored in liquid nitrogen after a controlled freeze by special machinery. Embryo freezing takes several hours while the thaw process takes about 30-45 minutes. Embryos have been successfully thawed after cryopreservation for as many as 13 years
2Can embryos survive thawing?
Although most embryos do survive the freeze thaw process, some may not survive. Success rates are comparable to fresh embryos. Be clear on your legal rights. Unused embryos can be donated or discarded
3Is a hatching blastocyst more likely to implant?
Human blastocysts should hatch from the shell and begin to implant 1-2 days after day 5 IVF blastocyst transfer. In a natural situation (not IVF), the blastocyst should hatch and implant at the same time - about 6 to 10 days after ovulation
4Can a hatching blastocyst split into twins?
There is an increased risk of identical twins with blastocyst transfers. ... Any couple wishing to avoid the chance of twins for any reason may choose single blastocyst transfer. In natural conception, fertilized eggs do not enter the uterus until five days after fertilization
5How do you thaw an embryo?
The cryoprotectant is removed from the embryo and replaced with water, rehydrating the cells. The embryo is warmed up much faster than it is cooled, using air and warm water baths, in as little as 20 minutes. Rapidly thawing the embryo prevents any ice crystals from forming and damaging the cells
6Can a single frozen embryo transfer result in twins?
Why single embryo transfers in IVF sometimes result in twins. ... However, despite performing SET, multiple pregnancies do happen due to a phenomenon known as 'zygotic splitting', when one embryo divides resulting in twins or triplets. It is more prevalent following SET than in spontaneous conception
7How many frozen embryos survive thawing?
The survival rate was 69% for thawed zygotes, 85% for D3 embryos, and 88% for blastocysts [Table 1]. The implantation rate per number thawed was 10% for zygotes, 12% for D3 embryos, and 14% for blastocysts
8Are frozen embryo transfers more successful?
Any patient, no matter the amount of time between embryo freezing and thawing, can expect nearly the same potential for success as they experienced with the fresh IVF cycle that the frozen embryos came from. Women 35 years and younger have over a 60 percent chance of pregnancy per transfer.
9How many eggs survive thawing?
Thus, if 10 eggs are frozen, 7 are expected to survive the thaw, and 5 to 6 are expected to fertilize and become embryos. Usually 3-4 embryos are transferred in women up to 38 years of age. We therefore recommend that 10 eggs be stored for each pregnancy attempt.
10Is a hatching blastocyst good?
When the embryo becomes a blastocyst and is about to hatch, it has already paved the way, and the blastocyst comes easily out of the membrane. Assisted hatching may also be beneficial in women who did not become pregnant in earlier treatments, although the embryos were of good quality.

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