Fertility clinic catches viable embryos early with new imaging system

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Embryologists at Bourn Hall Clinic, a fertility centre in the East of England, can now select viable embryos for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) with greater precision, thanks to a new imaging system installed at the centre.

The Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva) system is designed to improve IVF outcomes by analysing embryo development and providing objective information about the embryo’s growth.

Eeva images and records information about each embryo every five minutes, providing a complete visual history of early development. The test is non-invasive and uses intelligent computer vision software to measure and analyse key scientifically and clinically proven cell-division markers from video images. It then provides predictive information on which embryos are likely to form blastocysts at 5-6 days. This is the stage at which implantation within the womb can occur.

Traditionally in IVF, selection is made by a skilled embryologist who assesses the developing embryo under a microscope and assigns a grade based on the number and evenness of the cells, as well as the degree of fragmentation. One of the disadvantages of this procedure is that the delicate embryos must be removed from their incubators, for the observations to occur; hence the checks are kept to a minimum.

The Eeva microscopes are located inside an incubator, so the environment remains completely undisturbed. The embryos are imaged every five minutes, so their development is seen in its entirety, and as it is computer generated the information is completely free from human bias.

Martyn Blayney, head of science at Bourn Hall, the world’s first IVF clinic, said: ‘Eeva offers continual, consistent and objective evaluation of the embryos with minimal disturbance during those crucial first few days. We continually strive to try and increase every patient’s chance of success, and with the quantitative data that Eeva provides we are able to determine which embryos have the greatest potential, thereby providing our patients with the highest level of care.’

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