EmbryoScope is a new type of embryo culturing and observation device. Since 2009, it has been used in more than 300,000 patient treatments. The world’s first EmbryoScope baby was born in 2010.
EmbryoScope is an incubator with a built-in microscope and camera, specially designed for the cultivation of embryos. The camera automatically takes pictures of the embryos at set time intervals throughout the cultivation. These pictures are used to compose a time-lapse video, recording and storing the embryo’s entire early stage of development. When cultivating embryos in an ordinary incubator, embryo development can only be observed for short periods at a time, usually once a day, when the embryos are taken out of the incubator to be inspected under a microscope. Inevitably, this means missing many important indicators of embryo development. The time-lapse method allows us to monitor the embryos throughout the culture period without disturbing them.
With time-lapse techniques, new culture media known as single-step media have also been introduced to the market. These media support the development of the blastocyst throughout the culture process up to day 5–6. The culture medium used in traditional incubators, known as sequential medium, is changed on day 3. The single-step culture medium, together with the time-lapse method, guarantees undisturbed conditions from fertilisation to embryo transfer.
The EmbryoScope’s time-lapse culture system has other significant benefits too, in addition to undisturbed culture conditions for embryos. A great deal of data can be collected about the embryos that would go unobserved in a traditional culture process. The criteria for selecting embryos for transfer have usually included the rate at which cell division takes place, the number of fragments in an embryo and an embryo’s multinucleation. Multinucleated embryos, for example, have been found to produce poorer implantation and pregnancy rates, but a large part of multinucleation has remained unobserved in the traditional culture method. The initial embryonic cell division is a particularly important stage. Normally, embryos divide first into two cells, then four cells and on to eight cells. Some embryos may deviate in the way they divide, for example by dividing directly from one cell to three cells or from two cells to five cells. Studies have shown that using such embryos results in significantly lower pregnancy rates.
Studies have also proven that the EmbryoScope’s time-lapse method produces better pregnancy rates than the traditional culture method,. The number of miscarriages is reduced and futile embryo transfers are avoided, resulting in achieving a pregnancy more quickly.
Why is it a good idea to culture embryos in the EmbryoScope?
- It helps us to select the most viable embryos for embryo transfer
- Provides stable culture conditions throughout the culture period
- Involves less handling of embryos – no need to take the embryos out of the incubator for inspection
- Continuous monitoring of embryo development
- Better pregnancy rates
We have an Embryoscope in our clinics in Helsinki and Tampere.
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 Rubio et al (2014) Fertil Steril 102 (5):1287-1294,
 Meseguer et al (2012) Fertil Steril 98 (6):1481-1489
 Barrie et al (2013) Fert Steril 100 (3):S248