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After transfer to the uterus, the embryo must implant in the uterine lining and continue its development. In order to do this, it must break out of its “shell”. This shell is called the zona pellucida. Embryos may have a harder than normal shell or they may lack the energy needed to break out and complete the “hatching” process. Embryologists can assist this hatching by making a small hole in the zona pellucida of the embryo on the third or fifth day of the embryo’s growth. This is done through a specially fitted laser microscope. The cells of the embryo can then escape from this hole and implant at an earlier time of development when the uterine lining may be more favourable.

Some embryos grown in the laboratory may have a harder shell than normal or may lack the energy requirements needed to complete the hatching process. The embryologists can help these embryos achieve successful implantation through a technique called assisted hatching.

On the third or fifth day of laboratory growth and shortly prior to uterine transfer, a small hole is made in the zona pellucida of the embryo with a specially fitted laser microscope. Through this opening, the cells of the embryo can escape from the shell and implant.

Patients who are most likely to benefit from assisted hatching are:

  • Over 38 years of age
  • Mildly elevated Day 3 FSH
  • Multiple ART failures
  • Identified abnormalities with the zona pellucida.

What Is Laser Assisted Hatching?

Often, an in vitro fertilisation procedure can produce several embryos during the fertilisation process. Some couples opt to cryopreserve the embryos that are not transferred to the uterus during a given cycle, in the hope that they can use them later. This preservation process entails a sequence of freezing and thawing, the effects of which could adversely affect the natural process of blastocyst hatching. Laser assisted hatching is a laboratory procedure that loosens a blastocyst within its outer shell, allowing it to implant successfully once it is deposited onto the uterine lining.

Why Choose Laser Assisted Hatching?

Laser assisted hatching enables a blastocyst to thaw quickly, yet effectively, without compromising on its integrity.
Implantation Potential
Laser assisted hatching can produce better quality blastocysts than traditional thawing methods. We strive to optimise your odds of conception in every in vitro fertilisation cycle and we recommend assisted hatching as a tool to stimulate implantation.
Reap Benefits of Cryopreservation
Cryopreservation is an ultra-modern technique that can preserve your embryos for up to a decade. However, the success of the process hinges on how well the embryos are frozen and thawed. It is possible that the shell housing the embryo may be impaired if it is not handled properly. Assisted hatching can micro-manipulate an embryo effectively, leaving you to make the most of cryopreservation.

Is Laser Assisted Hatching Right for Me?

Laser assisted hatching can augment implantation and bring you closer to pregnancy if you have previously had three or more unfavourable in vitro fertilisation cycles. Alternatively, if your doctor finds that the outer walls of your embryos seem to be thicker than usual, a laser assisted hatching routine may be recommended for you.

What Are the Steps of Laser Assisted Hatching?

Laser assisted hatching is a short two-step process, following the retrieval of cryopreserved embryos.

Step 1. Light Pulsing

The hatching process is performed for each embryo individually. First, the embryo is framed by a circle of light indicating the circumference around which the laser will beam. Then, the laser starts pulsing a portion of the circumference, attempting to dissolve a part of the embryonic shell. The process is performed delicately, to ensure that the heat from the laser is not transferred to the cells of the embryo.

Step 2. Implantation

Your embryologist will identify up to two embryos to be placed inside the uterus. The embryo will then implant itself in the uterine lining in the following few days.

What Are the Risks of Laser Assisted Hatching?

There are two main risks associated with laser assisted hatching.

Embryo Damage

If the laser hatching process is performed poorly, an embryo could be blemished or permanently destroyed. The fertility experts on Holy Family Hospital are seasoned specialists, armed with years of experience in laser assisted hatching. Together, they have established some of the best-assisted hatching rates in the country.

Increased Likelihood of Twins

There is a school of thought that suggests that assisted hatching can promote monozygotic twinning, although this theory is unattested.

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