In Vitro Fertilization: Assisted Hatching
Some embryos grown in the laboratory may have a harder shell than normal or may lack the energy requirements needed to complete the hatching process. The embryologists can help these embryos achieve successful implantation through a technique called assisted hatching.
On the third or fifth day of laboratory growth and shortly prior to uterine transfer, a small hole is made in the zona pellucida of the embryo with a specially fitted laser microscope. Through this opening, the cells of the embryo can escape from the shell and implant at a somewhat earlier time of development, when the uterine lining may be more favorable.
Women who are most likely to benefit from assisted hatching are those:
- Over 38 years of age
- With mild elevations in their day 3 FSH levels
- Having repeated failures of ART cycles
- With embryos that have abnormal appearing zonae, as determined
- Through close inspection by the embryologists
If performed improperly, creating this window in the zona pellucida can harm rather than help the chance for establishment of a pregnancy. Our embryologists have performed this technique for many years and have found it to improve pregnancy and delivery rates in the poor prognosis patient.