Types of Assisted Hatching

Assisted hatching is a medical procedure carried out on embryos that are produced during In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Although IVF procedures are fairly successful, in a minority of cases, you might have less chances of getting pregnant due to various reasons. Assisted hatching is a procedure that helps you increase the chances of a successful IVF.

What Exactly Is Assisted Hatching?

Once the embryo has been transferred to the uterus, it should hatch from its protective layering and stick to the uterine lining for a successful implantation. Assisted hatching is recommended only in specific cases, where the outer protective layer or zona pellucida (layer of protein) is thicker. This procedure is carried out on the embryo that is unable to break through its protective layer zona pellucida and is unable to successfully attach itself to the uterine lining. Assisted hatching is a delicate and extremely skillful process by which the outer protective laye (zona pellicuda) is pierced in order to aid hatching of the embryo. Assisted hatching, performed by skilled and experienced micromanipulators, has displayed high implantation success rates, even in cases where the woman is aged between 35 to 39 years.

The more prevalent methods of assisted hatching are as follows:

Chemical Assisted Hatching

The embryo is placed under a microscope in a petri dish containing culture fluid. A specific pipette and a hollow needle is used to hold the embryo in place. The hollow pipette contains an acidic solution, which is then released near the zona pellicuda. This acidic solution is meant to create a small hole in the zona pellucida by slowly digesting the outer layer. Chemical assisted hatching is one of the more common methods in use. This technique is also known as zona drilling.

Mechanical Assisted Hatching

As the name suggests, this method of assisted hatching involves manually grinding away a section of the zona pellucida. The aid of a micromanipulator machine is employed in this technique; where in the zona pellucida is carefully pierced using a fine glass needle. A pipette is then used to grind away a portion of the outer layer trapped by the glass needle.

Laser Assisted Hatching

Laser assisted hatching is the safest of all available methods used for assisted hatching. Laser assisted hatching is more precise and reliable as compared to the other methods and in general regarded as the safest. It also takes much less time as compared to the other methods which in turn results in generally successful results. The drilled embryos can be returned to their optimal culture conditions rather swiftly. In addition, the use of lasers ensures that the possible damage to the embryo from the acid is negated. Also, since laser assisted hatching requires least manual intervention, it results in a reduced risk of damaging the embryo by accidental manual damage. In spite of being acknowledged as the safest method, laser assisted hatching is still not predominantly used by clinics.

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