Assisted hatching (AH or AHA) is a procedure performed on an embryo just prior to embryo transfer or in relation with pre-implantation genetic testing. In some cases, the outer layer of the tissue that surrounds the embryo may not hatch open the way it should, therefore causing prevention to implantation.
The procedure involves creating an opening or thinning in the egg wall, known as the zona pellucida, and is performed just prior to embryo placement during IVF. The opening provides a weak spot in the egg wall through which the embryo can hatch at the appropriate time of development.
Indications for Assisted Hatching
During early stages of development, a non-cellular coating called the zona pellucida surrounds the embryo’s cells. The embryo attaches to the uterine wall in a process called implantation, which occurs on day seven of development. Before this can occur, the embryo must escape (hatch) from the zona pellucida. The hatching process appears to result from physical stretching and rupture of the zona pellucida.
Some patients have a condition that reduces the ability of the embryos to hatch and implant in the uterus. Indications for assisted hatching include:
- Advanced age – patients who are 38 years of age or older
- Patients with elevated day-3 FSH (>10.0)
- Fragmented or poor quality embryos
- Patients with previous failed IVF cycles
- Thick or abnormal zona pellucida
In women over the age of 38, a high degree of success has been obtained through the use of assisted hatching. As the aging process continues, women gradually lose their viable eggs and through this technique can achieve fertility at a much better rate than from a natural and conventional approach.
Using a high powered operating microscope an embryologist can assist the hatching process by creating an opening in the shell of the embryo by using microsurgical techniques with an acidified solution or a laser. In the case of preimplantation genetic testing, AH is required to enter the embryo to remove cellular material used for the genetic testing. Indications for the use of AH are limited, and the physicians and embryologists must determine when the procedure should be utilized.
Embryo assisted hatching is just one of the many skillful procedures that have led to high degrees of success achieved through a quality IVF program. The highly skilled team of Denver fertility doctors at Rocky Mountain Fertility can work with you to determine if assisted hatching is the best possible procedure for your case.
Currently, Dr. Deborah Smith is offering complimentary 15 minute phone consults to discuss your situation. With over two decades as a premier Colorado infertility doctor, Dr. Smith treats patients with individualized, expert, compassionate care. Call (303) 999-3877 today to get started!