Laser Assisted Hatching is a laboratory procedure that is sometimes done along with in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. While the embryo develops, it is surrounded by cells that make up a protective shell (zona pellucida). The embryo naturally breaks out of this shell as it grows. Occasionally, the doctor may ask the laboratory to make a small "crack" in the outer shell of the embryo right before it is placed into the woman’s body (assisted hatching). The hope is that assisted hatching might help the embryo expand, implant into the uterine wall, and finally lead to a pregnancy.
During assisted hatching, the outer shell of the embryo is artificially weakened by making a small hole in the zona pellucida. This can be done in several different ways. The method we use and which is the most advanced method involves the use of a laser to "crack" the shell.
Rarely, assisted hatching can damage the embryo, making it unusable.
The risk for identical twins might be slightly increased when assisted hatching is applied. Medical complications are higher in identical twin pregnancies than in normal, singleton pregnancies.
Experts do not recommend the use of assisted hatching in ALL patients undergoing IVF treatments to conceive. Studies suggest that assisted hatching might help improve pregnancy chances for certain groups of patients. Assisted hatching may help improve pregnancy chances in women who have failed to get pregnant in previous IVF cycles and those with a poor prognosis (women who are older than 38 years or who have average or bad quality embryos).
If Pre Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) pr Pre Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is planned, assisted hatching of embryos on the third day after fertilization can make a biopsy for PGS or PGD easier. During a biopsy, a small amount of tissue is taken from the outer cells of the embryo (trophectoderm) around the fifth day after fertilization (blastocyst stage). It is easier to see the trophectoderm and remove the cells in a hatching embryo.