Embryo assessment by time-lapse imaging
The selection of embryos for transfer is crucial to the success of IVF. Now, in certain cases and for certain patients, embryo selection can be helped by a technique which visualises the progress of embryo development with a photograph taken every twenty minutes.
Time-lapse technology allows embryologists to inspect the development of embryos with great frequency but without disturbing them or exposing them to outside air conditions. This means we can culture embryos and monitor their progress in totally stable and sealed conditions, with an image of their composition at every tiny stage of development.
Studies suggest that embryos selected with the help of time-lapse imaging have a high chance of forming a healthy pregnancy, so the technology will be especially welcome for patients with a poor reproductive record - that is, women who have already been unsuccessful in IVF and/or those of older reproductive age.
The information provided by time-lapse technology and the criteria by which embryos are selected for transfer relates mainly to the rate at which the embryos progress from one embryonic stage to the next - so the time between these stages is crucial. It is the rapid sequence of images available to the embryologist which allows analysis of these changes, and thus the assessment of which embryo has the best chance of implantation in the uterus.