The ability of the embryo to hatch from its protective shell is a crucial step in enabling it to implant in the uterus.

What are the functions of laser assisted hatching?

The egg's shell (zona pellucida) has a number of functions, the last of which is

1) To hatch or free the growing embryo so that it may implant.

2) To create a barrier so that no more than one sperm fertilizes the egg as penetration by multiple sperm will almost inevitably destroy an embryo.

3) To protect and encase the embryo as it grows from a mere 2 cells (day 1) into blastocyst stage (100-200 cells) approximately 5 days after retrieval.

What is assisted hatching?

In assisted hatching, a laser is used to thin or to make an opening on the outer shell (zone pellucida) of the fertilized egg before it is transferred into the uterus. This outer shell is believed to become thicker and hardened with aging of the oocyte (egg). The assisted hatching technique was introduced to enhance the embryos' ability to hatch, and thus implant, after transfer.

What are the indications for assisted hatching?

1) Women of advanced age (>37 years).

2) Previously had one or more IVF cycles in which your embryos failed to implant, despite being best quality embryos.

3) When the Embryo’s outer shell (Zona Pellucida) appears thick

4) Assisted hatching has been shown to be most helpful prior to transferring a frozen-thawed embryo, because the Zona pellucida hardens with freezing.

Is laser assisted hatching is recommended for all routine cases? It is not recommended to do Laser Assisted Hatching as this does not increase the success rate in all routine cases.

How and when is assisted hatching performed?

Assisted hatching is performed in the laboratory just before embryos are transferred into the woman's uterus. Using a laser, the embryologist makes a tiny, precise opening in the shell of each embryo.

Is assisted hatching safe?

Because the shell is not a living part of the embryo, penetrating this outer structure poses virtually no threat. Studies indicate that assisted hatching using laser technology is superior to chemical assisted hatching, in which the egg is penetrated with an acidic solution. Laser technology enables far more precision and is also done more quickly, thus reducing the length of time that embryos are handled before transfer. The laser also enables embryologists to prevent excessive heat exposure, thus eliminating virtually all risk to the embryo.