What You Must Know about Embryology Labs Before Fertility Treatment

What should every fertility patient know about embryology labs before going through treatment? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support organization, interviews two of the leading embryologist to find out what patients should know, and what advances are on the horizon to improve success rates. Dr. Marie D. Werner, a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Rutgers, Reproductive Medicine Associates of NJ where she has completed an intensive 6 month embryology training program. Dr. Werner is one of the lead investigators of the SuMMIT study. Dr. Michael Tucker has worked in the field of reproductive medicine/embryology for over 26 years. Dr. Tucker has received world-wide recognition for his pioneering work in the IVF technologies that have helped to revolutionize the treatment of infertility. In 1992, he helped to advance the ICSI technique and was responsible for the first ICSI baby born in the US. In 1997, he led the team that was successful in achieving the first pregnancy and birth using cryopreserved eggs. He is the Director of Embryology at Shady Grove Fertility and at Georgia Reproductive Specialists

Hit the Highlights
  • What is the role of the reproductive endocrinologist and the embryologist? How do their roles in IVF and fertility treatment differ?
  • How does an embryo differ from a zygote and a fetus?
  • What advancements in embryology, embryology labs, and in medicine have resulted in the increase of success rates for IVF?
  • One of the greatest advances it seems to me is the ability to grow embryos to Day 5 and even Day 6. What has made this possible?
  • Is the goal to replicate the conditions inside the fallopian tubes? How do you do that?
  • Summit study being conducted at RMA NJ:
    • Focuses on conditions in the laboratory that affect ultimate outcome.
    • Designed to determine the optimal environment for embryo growth in the IVF laboratory.
    • Is comparing media to use for blastocyst culture (day 5 or day 6 embryos).
  • Prior studies have shown that culturing embryos in single-step vs. multi-step media have the same outcomes. Both types of media are commercially available and FDA approved for clinical use. This study seeks to evaluate these two media with as regard to pregnancy outcome.
  • What improvement have been made to embryo incubation systems in the last several years, and how have they affected IVF success and pregnancy rates?
  • Time lapse imagery: how is it being used to improve selection of embryos for IVF?
  • What developments have occurred in in air filtering for embryology labs, and why should patients care?Have there been any recent advances in cryopreservation?
  • The emphasis has shifted in embryology to how to select the best embryo to transfer. How do you do that now?
  • PGS or CCS?
  • What should patients be looking for in an embryology lab? What questions should they ask to determine if their clinic’s lab is good enough to help them get pregnant?
  • What types of qualifications are common for embryology labs that patients should look for?
  • How can patients determine quality control at an embryology lab?
  • What can patients and fertility clinics do to avoid the problem of mixed up embryos or egg or sperm? How can you minimize the risk of receiving the wrong embryos or egg or sperm?

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Image Credit: ZEISS Microscopy

Show re-aired in 2018.