What are the risks of an Assisted Hatching?
- Posted on: Mar 11 2014
Assisted hatching is a supplementary technique used in some cases of an in vitro fertilization when the prognosis of the embryo is not ideal.
It is used to assist an embryo by weakening the zona pellucida (egg wall) in order to provide the implantation an increased chance of taking effect. Often this procedure is recommended to those women who have had one or more failed IVF cycles,
or if the embryo to be used has a particularly thick zona pellucida.
The potential risks associated with assisted hatching vary with each individual case, and are largely based upon the skill of the embryologist administering the procedure. The major risk present is damage to the embryo during the process.
Since piercing the zona pellucida in order to weaken it is a technique performed by hand, there are variations in each hatching. It is possible for the wall of the embryo, or the embryo itself, to become damaged leading to potential risk of birth defects within the fetus. It is possible, albeit rare, for the embryo to be accidentally destroyed during this process.
Infection of the embryo is also a concern as the defenses provided by the egg wall will have been weakened considerably. Often the patient is prescribed both antibiotics and steroids to inhibit the immune system from attacking and infecting the embryo in its weakened state. Protecting the weakened embryo throughout the implantation process is paramount to ensuring a successful pregnancy.
It is possible for an assisted hatching to result in an increased chance of having a set of either conjoined or identical twins. This is due to a small chance of the embryo being cleaved in two during the assisted hatching process. If this takes place, there is the potential for the two halves of the embryo to each grow and later re-join one another resulting in twins. While this is not necessarily a negative of the procedure, knowing that it is likely to result in twins is a deterrent for some women.
An assisted hatching can cause complications within the mother such as nausea, vomiting, swelling of the face, water retention, headaches, and possible autoimmune complications. These risks are a secondary reason that steroidal and antibiotic medicines are prescribed to the patient during an assisted hatching. Many of these risks can be diagnosed with a simple ultrasound test.
While assisted hatching has a high variance, it has been shown that the technique can be very beneficial to the IVF cycles of patients who decide to use it.
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