What is time-lapse technology?
Improvements in technology can result in improvements to fertility treatment. This is the case for time-lapse technology in which pictures of your embryos are taken every 5-10 minutes without disturbing the environment they are grown in. In some cases, embryos are cultured for up to 140 hours allowing our embryologists to carefully select the best embryo for your treatment.
Although “amber lighted” by the HFEA, an estimated 1.2 million IVF cycles have been performed worldwide using time-lapse incubators. Multiple recent studies have concluded this technology can improve pregnancy and livebirth rates as well as reducing miscarriage.
How is time-lapse used at LWC?
Our Cardiff laboratory has utilised this technology since 2015 and recently analysed their results from the last 4 years which will hopefully be presented at the national Fertility 2020 conference. LWC results have shown significant improvements using time-lapse compared to other types of incubators including the likeliness of having a blastocyst stage embryo transfer as well as the amount of blastocysts created and frozen. For patients with at least 4 fertilised eggs, over 50% had an embryo transfer and had good quality embryos “left over” to freeze for future attempts. For these patients, there will be higher cumulative chance of achieving a pregnancy as they can undergo multiple embryo transfers using fresh and frozen embryos.
Using the latest vitrification technology, embryos are preserved at the age you were at the time of freezing. For example, if you were aged 35 when the embryos were created and frozen, if you use them 5 years later, the embryos will still be 35. This means that today embryos can be thawed out and replaced in a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycle, when the patient is ready, with the same or better chance of success than in a fresh cycle. LWC’s previous studies demonstrate that fresh and frozen success rates are nearly identical!
How does this affect me?
As the data is now so compelling, LWC Cardiff installed another time-lapse incubator last year so virtually every patient’s embryos are now cultured using time-lapse and at no extra charge to LWC Wales and Bristol patients! LWC continue to be at the cutting edge of technology as our research programme continues to build on this data in collaboration with Cardiff University and other technology groups. Previous verified HFEA success rates demonstrated LWC Wales had the best local success rates and this technology has improved these even further.
For LWC patients who had treatment using time-lapse, they can arrange a follow up with our Laboratory Manager, Andrew Thomson to see the images and get further insights.