The term assisted hatching is used to describe the procedure of opening a small hole to the transparent embryo belt which envelopes it as a cell. Using a special laser attached to the microscope of the laboratory, a precision cut is made in order to facilitate the implantation of the embryo to the uterus.
WHEN IS THE TECHNIQUE USED?
The embryo, during the first days of its development, is enveloped by an outer cover called the transparent belt. The role of the transparent belt is protective towards the developing embryo both by sheltering mechanically the integrity of the embryo as well as protecting it from its surrounding environment. Under normal circumstances during the sixth (6) or seventh (7) day of growth, the transparent belt slowly dissolves and the embryo, which already has entered the blastocyst stage “hatches” in order to make contact with the endometrium and start the process of implantation. In some cases the transparent belt is thicker or harder than normal and does not dissolve, thus preventing the implantation of the embryo.
WHY WE COULD USE THIS TECHNIQUE?
During the in vitro fertilization, the embryologist can facilitate the embryos task – technically assist hatching – by opening a small hole or by thinning a small area of the surface of the transparent belt with the use of laser, before it is transferred to the uterus. The method increases the probability of the embryo to attach to the endometrium successfully and alongside that the possibility of a pregnancy. On the other hand, it has to be stated that this particular technique can potentially harm the embryo and is therefore implemented only when deemed necessary by the embryologist.
In order to implement this technique six (6) basic parameters should be met:
- A thick or hardened transparent belt of the embryo.
- Transfer of cryopreserved embryos.
- Multiple unsuccessful attempts for in vitro fertilization.
- The age of the patient (over 40 years of age).
- A high level of the FSH hormone.
- A high level of the AMH hormone.