Assisted Hatching is a procedure that creates a small opening in the outer coat (zona) of the embryo immediately prior to transfer to the uterus. The presence of this opening helps the embryo “hatch” once it is placed back in the patient’s uterus. Hatching must occur prior to embryo implantation; pregnancy begins after the embryo implants in the uterus. There is evidence that in certain circumstances, some embryos may need help escaping (“hatching”) from the zona and assisted hatching was developed to address this issue. Genesis performs all assisted hatching using a state-of-the-art microsurgical laser system that creates the gap in the zona in a precise way without compromising the embryonic cells.
Assisted hatching is not routinely used in our lab, but there are some general guidelines where it may prove helpful in encouraging implantation. Assisted hatching is recommended for older patients (40 and older), for patients with thickened zonas (often identified during the early development of the embryos), for patients who have had several unsuccessful cycles with no clear-cut reason and in some cases for patients undergoing thawed embryo transfer as part of those procedures.