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LASER ASSISTED HATCHING







Assisted hatching is a technique where a gap is made in the shell or “zona” of the embryo prior to the embryo transfer. The idea is that this small slit in the shell of the embryo improves its ability to hatch out of the shell after it forms a blastocyst.

The embryos have to “hatch” or break out of the zona in order to embed into the endometrium lining the uterine cavity. This occurs about four to five days after embryo transfer when the embryo is at the blastocysts stage. Naturally this takes place by expanding/contracting of the zona until it distorts, allowing the blastocysts to “hatch”.

If the zona is not functional, this hatching may not occur. It has been reported that up to 75% of normal embryos never hatch through the protective layering of the zona. Laboratory techniques involved in IVF may result in hardening of the zona. In natural fertilization there are enzymes present within the fluid in the Fallopian tube, which may “soften” the zona. This does not happen in IVF as the tube is bypassed. The zona may also be thicker following IVF , especially in older ladies. Frozen embryos may also have a hardened zona.

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IVF hatching has been done using 3 general methods


The embryos have to “hatch” or break out of the zona in order to embed into the endometrium lining the uterine cavity. This occurs about four to five days after embryo transfer when the embryo is at the blastocysts stage. Naturally this takes place by expanding/contracting of the zona until it distorts, allowing the blastocysts to “hatch”.

If the zona is not functional, this hatching may not occur. It has been reported that up to 75% of normal embryos never hatch through the protective layering of the zona. Laboratory techniques involved in IVF may result in hardening of the zona. In natural fertilization there are enzymes present within the fluid in the Fallopian tube, which may “soften” the zona. This does not happen in IVF as the tube is bypassed. The zona may also be thicker following IVF , especially in older ladies. Frozen embryos may also have a hardened zona.


Methods of Assisted Hatching


  • Hatching with acid Tyrode’s solution – video of acid Tyrode’s embryo hatching
  • Hatching with mechanical means, such as partial zona dissection (PZD)
  • Hatching with a laser

The most commonly used method for assisted hatching over the years has been with acid Tyrode’s . However, in recent years use of a laser in IVF labs is becoming more common – and has become a useful tool for micromanipulation of embryos. However, it must be used expertly or damage to the cells could occur.


How is a laser used for IVF hatching?


As can be seen in the photograph (above), there is a circle of colored light that shows where the laser will fire. The beam itself is invisible and when it is pulsed we can see the effect, but can not see the laser beam itself. A laser works by releasing energy in the embryo’s shell – thereby vaporizing or dissolving it. Because of the heat generated it must be used cautiously so that cells are not heated significantly.


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