Assisted Hatching

Assisted hatching is a laboratory procedure performed on the embryo before the embryo transfer. In this technique a very small hole is made in the outer shell of the embryo (called as the zona pellucida), before placing it in the uterus. As part of normal process of implantation, the embryo has to hatch out from the zona pellucida in order to implant in the uterus. Therefore, making a hole in the zona pellucida of the embryo before placing it in the uterus assists the embryo in coming out of this shell and facilitates implantation.

What are the techniques of assisted hatching?

There are two methods of performing assisted hatching-

1. Mechanical/ Acid digestion hatching– The procedure is done under microscope using a micro needle.

2. Laser assisted hatching– Laser hatching is the latest and a more accurate technique of assisted hatching, in which a beam of laser is directed to the embryo to make a hole on the embryo. It involves minimal mechanical handling of the embryo, is quick to perform and is a very accurate method to deliver a hole in the embryo.

What are the benefits of assisted hatching?

Assisted hatching benefits the following sets of patients-

1. Women with recurrent implantation failure

2. Women undergoing frozen embryo transfer– Freezing tends to harden the zona pellucida of the embryo, which may be a little more difficult for the embryo to breach. Thus, frozen embryo benefits from assisted hatching as it increases the chances of successful implantation.

3. Women elder than 37 years of age, who are undergoing IVF

4. Thick Zona- Zona pellucida >40 microns thick.