Time-lapse incubator

A Time-lapse Incubator is designed with a lapse camera that allows the embryologist to observe the embryo development at all times. The embryologists are able to make detailed assessments of positive or negative features that occur as the embryo grows. We have EmbryoScope time-lapse incubators at City Fertility. 

A time-lapse incubator is a type of incubator designed to provide time-lapse images of embryos as they develop in real-time. Taking pictures every 10 to 12 minutes, their purpose is to help specialists select the embryos that are most likely to develop into a baby, while keeping the embryos as safe as possible.

This is all done as part of a process known as time-lapse imaging, which is a treatment add-on that offers a slightly different practice to that of Conventional in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). 

In a Conventional IVF procedure, several eggs will be collected from a patient or donor and mixed with sperm samples in a laboratory environment. This is done in the hopes that the eggs will be fertilised by the sperm and start to develop into embryos. In order to check on the embryos’ progress, an embryologist will have to examine them every day under a microscope. This involves removing them from the incubator they are cultured in for a brief period of time.

By using a time-lapse incubator, an embryologist can analyse hundreds of images of the embryos as they grow, without having to remove them from the incubator itself. This allows the embryos to have uninterrupted culture for as long as possible, while still allowing the embryologist a continuous view of them. Without this, they would only be able to view the embryos once per day.

Through the time-lapse incubator, it has been suggested that an embryologist will be able to more easily choose a specific embryo for implantation. This choice will be based on criteria such as the rate of development, as well as the number and appearance of the embryo’s cells.

There have been various studies conducted to determine whether or not time-lapse incubation and imaging are effective at increasing the chances of a patient having a baby. Initial research has shown some positive signs that it could help, but there is as of yet not enough evidence to confirm this. To reflect this uncertain state, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has listed time-lapse incubation and imaging as amber on their traffic light scale.

Using a time-lapse incubator to carry out imaging does not carry any additional known risks, either to the person undergoing the fertility treatment or to any child born as a result of the treatment. 

Alongside questions on their effectiveness, it is always best to discuss any questions you have about the risks and safety of add-on treatments with your doctor.