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Time-lapse imaging (EmbryoScope)

In IVF, time-lapse imaging is used to help select the embryos most likely to successfully develop into a baby. In conventional IVF, the embryologist will check the developing embryos each day under a microscope, which involves removing them from the incubator for a brief period.

Time-lapse imaging allows the embryologist to take thousands of images of the embryos as they grow without disturbing them. Not only does this mean the embryos do not have to be removed from the incubator, it also allows the embryologist to get a continuous view of each embryo as it develops, rather than just viewing them once a day.

The embryologist can then choose a specific embryo for implantation based on criteria such as rate of development and the number and appearance of cells. Indeed, being undisturbed while they grow may improve the quality of the embryos.

EmbryoScope is the world's most used time-lapse system that allows embryologists to monitor your developing embryos throughout their development.

1: Minimises embryo handling

Conventionally, embryologists are required to remove the culture dish that contains developing embryos from the incubator daily to formally evaluate their development and quality. EmbryoScope is the only time-lapse system with an integrated high stability incubator that minimizes embryo handling by taking regular images of the embryos without disturbing them

2: Potential to improve embryo selection

Alongside standard embryo selection techniques, EmbryoScope may improve the selection of embryos with the highest potential for implantation. Certain markers of embryo development are programmed to occur within specific windows of time and if an embryo achieves these either too quickly or too slowly this may suggest a lower embryo potential.

3: Documentation of development

Full video documentation of your embryo development for future reference.

Are there any risks?

No, there are no known risks to the woman or her embryos from time-lapse imaging.

What's the evidence for time-lapse imaging?

There have been various studies to try and see if time-lapse imaging can improve birth rates. Initial research has shown some promise, but it’s still very early days.  There’s certainly not enough evidence to show that time-lapse imaging improves birth rates, which is something you may want to consider if it’s being offered to you at an extra cost.

Lister opinion:

We are very confident of the quality and therefore outcomes of our current incubation methods and therefore do not routinely use time-lapse incubators in all our cycles.

We have 2 Embryoscopes that are sometimes recommended where a clinician or embryologist feels that the information on timing of embryo development may be useful for embryo selection above and beyond conventional methods or may aid understanding of causes of cycle failure

 The HFEA "traffic light rating" for Time Lapse Imaging is "amber", suggesting that there is a growing body of evidence which is showing promising results but where further research is still required.

Read more about the HFEA traffic light system on fertility "add ons". (Link to our PDF)

A fertility "add-on" is an "optional extras that you may be offered on top of your normal fertility treatment, often at an additional cost. They’re typically emerging techniques that may have shown some promising results in initial studies but haven’t necessarily been proven to improve pregnancy or birth rates."

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The Lister Fertility Clinic
The Lister Hospital
Chelsea Bridge Road
London SW1W 8RH

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