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Manual Embryo Handling Appears Superior to Automated

The Center for Human Reproduction’s Dr. Norbert Gleicher explains that newer-generation embryology equipment, such as the Embryoscope, seek to reduce the handling of eggs and embryos, but they do not appear to increase pregnancy rates.

Now comes this concept of embryoscopy, named in this way after the first product which was called an embryoscope. In the meanwhile, there are 4 or 5 products on the market from different companies all trying to modify our standard laboratory concept in embryology as I’ve just described. And the principle change is that these embryoscopes are usually closed systems where you put the eggs and the sperm in, fertilization takes place, and the culture of the developing embryo happens in this closed system. It is kind of like an incubator that you never open to take out the embryos to look. It’s a closed system. And, instead of taking out the embryos and looking at them under a microscope, those embryos are constantly photographed every few seconds or minutes, a picture is taken. And so the embryologist can observe the development of these embryos at almost minute-to-minute stages. And the idea was, that by being able to watch these developing embryos, we will have an additional embryo selection process. We will learn things from how these embryos divide at different time points, how they look, which will give us much more insight into what represents a good embryo, what doesn’t. That’s obviously the holy grail of IVF and embryology. We all would like to know which is the best embryo, which is the best embryo that will give us the greatest pregnancy chance. The idea here was that since we cannot take out the embryos from the incubator because every time we take them out they are disturbed, it reduces pregnancy chances, in a closed system we can observe these embryos without any damage to them and therefore we will be able to figure out which is the best embryo. Wonderful idea, except, no study has shown that it really works. This new fashion which is widely being propagated, and some IVF centers use this for advertisements, it’s probably going to be nothing else but a fashion.