Ever Wonder What an Embryo Does When No One's Looking? Doctors Now Know
byKaitlin StanfordJun 16, 2014
For nearly 40 years, the miraculous breakthrough of IVF has been helping millions of couples around the world conceive when they might otherwise have never even had the option. In fact, for the nearly one in four couples today who have issues conceiving naturally, IVF has been a simply a life-changing discovery.
And it's no wonder, since the whole process is pretty amazing, when you get down to it. If you're unfamiliar with its particulars, doctors extract a woman's eggs, implant them individually with sperm in a petri dish, where it's then cultivated in a lab. Then comes the waiting game. If the sperm and egg "hit it off," so to speak, and an embryo does in fact result, it's then implanted back into the soon-to-be mother's womb, and nine months later ... voila! A baby is born.
But while that may sound pretty simple and all, it's not; the entire process has taken doctors and scientists years to perfect. And now, thanks to a new machine called the Embryoscope, its success rates are being boosted dramatically.
The machine itself monitors the embryos — a process that has always been pretty difficult. But amazingly, it does so around the clock. Until now, an embryologist would have to remove the embryos from the safe environment of the incubator to inspect them. In doing so, he or she would expose the vulnerable embryo to a variety of environmental hazards, temperature changes and more. Another big hurdle: embryologists could only do this once a day.
Considering all of the odds stacked against each embryo, it's amazing that thousands of them ever managed to thrive each year. (The year 2012 alone resulted in some 60,000 babies being born through IVF.)
But now, with the introduction of the Embryoscope, medical professionals no longer have to worry about a lot of the hurdles that were once commonplace with IVF — and they are ecstatic about all the possibilities.
"I think this is the most exciting breakthrough since IVF started," said Dr. Simon Fishel, managing director at CARE facility.
"The information that we are gathering with the Embryoscope with the time-lapse is far superior," he shared with CNN. "We have much, much more information on which to base the crucial decision as to which embryo is the one to transfer back to the patient."
Thanks to the constant monitoring of the Embryoscope, technicians can watch time-lapse footage of the embryos before removing them from incubation, and can quickly identify which are displaying abnormalities versus those that are properly developing. This technology alone has already enhanced the success rate for couples conceiving.
Watch below as Dr. Fishel chats with CNN about the groundbreaking new technology.