Once the patient’s eggs are retrieved, the focus of the cycle shifts into the embryology laboratory where the eggs are fertilized and developed until it’s time for the embryos to be transferred.
Our embryology laboratories are filled with incubators, microscopes, inverted microscopes, laminar flow, unsafe air tower, liquid nitrogen tanks for cryopreservation and highly skilled technicians to ensure patient’s sensitive eggs have the best chance of growing into healthy embryos.
Air re-entering the laboratory is filtered through both HEPA filtration.
Embryos are developed and cultured in incubators, which act as artificial wombs. The environment within each incubator is carefully controlled; the temperature is set to a constant 37 degrees Celsius, CO2 and PH to be maintained for the womb environment.
Each microscope magnifies up to 400 times and provides high resolution views of the sperm, eggs, and embryos, allowing embryologist to make precise movements when doing procedures.
In addition, liquid nitrogen storage vessels containing patients’ frozen sperm, eggs, and embryos are monitored around the clock.
Behind each piece of equipment is an embryologist. The principal functions of these specially trained staff are to verify the identification of individual patient specimens, carefully handle sperm, eggs, and embryos and to guarantee appropriate distribution of all materials.
Embryologists usually verify the identification of samples at each stage of the process to ensure, for example, that the correct sperm is paired with the correct eggs. Verification through verbally and through documents occurs before injection.
Labelling each and every dishes, semen sample, and oocyte retrieval dishes are very important and cross checked by laboratory personals.
Embryology team gives Quality Assurance, Quality Control and Quality Improvement.
Once the egg retrieval is done, embryologists will check for the quality of the eggs and they inform the clinicians and the patients regarding the same. Fresh semen sample is collected from the male partner in the labelled container and processed.In case of severe male factor frozen sample or surgical retrieval (TESA,PESA,Micro-TESA) of sperms may used for ICSI.
After the eggs and sperm are sorted and prepared, the next step is fertilization – a process that starts later the same day.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI is a more controlled process, which is frequently used for Male Factor infertility, in which an embryologist injects a single, healthy sperm into the cytoplasm, or center, of each egg. Once ICSI is done ,the injected sperm and egg will be kept in the culture media for its development. Once fertilization occurs, the embryos begin to develop. Next day of retrieval is considered as Day 1 for fertilization and fert check will be done on that day. Number of eggs fertilized and its quality will be informed to the partners and clinicians.
Embryo development begins when the fertilized eggs are placed in an incubator overnight. Then, every morning for the following 3 to 5 days, an embryologist examines each patient’s developing embryos. The embryologist make notes about what has occurred since the previous day and adds them into the patient’s record. Healthy embryos are frozen on Day 3 or Day5. Frozen embryos are then stored in the liquid nitrogen for transfer at a later date . Many patients have embryos frozen after their transfer also which is used for their consecutive cycles.
Vitrification is a relatively new technology that has improved the way embryos are frozen. The vitrification process consists of rapidly cooling the embryo(s) so that little or no damage is done to them. When these embryos are thawed, they are virtually identical to their original state.
Choosing embryos that will implant is the main goal of the embryologist since these are the ones most likely to result in a pregnancy.
Once the embryos are chosen for procedure,they are placed in a medium with a much higher protein content (resembles more like the uterine tissue fluid) to prevent the rapid movement of the embryos before the transfer. They are then picked up in the transfer catheter along with the medium and given to the physician for placement into the uterus. This medium allows the transferred embryos to settle more quickly away from the catheter tip onto the uterine lining.
Embryologists work closely with the clinical team to make the best decisions possible for every patient – and the clinical team, in turn, makes sure that what’s happening in the laboratory is communicated to their patients every day.