The embryology laboratory is a huge part of ensuring that the very best chance of success is achieved in any given IVF cycle. What goes on inside the embryology lab is often the overlooked piece of the equation for IVF success. A superbly designed and run laboratory is a critical component in making sure that there are healthy embryos to put back on transfer day. Unfortunately, most IVF labs have significant design flaws.
A partial list includes of common flaws include:
- Lack of complete isolation from surroundings
- Insufficient level of positive pressurization
- Lack of chemical filtration or a chemical filter with insufficient residence time
- Inappropriate materials in construction
- Low ventilation rates
- Bypassing of particulate or chemical filters
- Contaminated or compromised source of supply air
- Designs which render maintenance difficult or impossible
- Lack of isolation of the fan motor from the air steam.
These flaws can all contribute to greater circulating levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other contaminants inside an IVF lab. VOCs can be harmful to the growing embryos and have been found to severely reduce success rates.
The IVF laboratory must also provide a microbiologically clean environment to insure that cultures are not contaminated by molds, bacteria, and viruses because the presence of such contaminants has also been linked to significantly reduced success rates. To that end, Overlake Reproductive Health has spared no expense to create a world class laboratory, most assuredly the best in this area of the country. Design specifications included strict attention to the following parameters.
- Temperature stability
- Ventilation rate
- Relative humidity
- Low VOC levels
- Low Aldehyde levels
- Low Particle counts
- Mold reduction
- Chemical Filter Residence time
- Noise Level
- Lighting Level
By paying strict attention to these details we were able to build, from the ground up, a state of the art IVF laboratory. A laboratory that can ensure the highest levels of success for your embryos. We didn’t stop there. In our pursuit to provide the best possible environment for the developing embryos we also looked at optimizing the culture conditions.
Culture conditions are also important to the development of your embryos. With modern technology we are able to achieve conditions that closely emulate a mother’s uterus, which is the ideal environment for growing embryos. To that end, using a tri-gas culture system that controls oxygen levels is critical. Use of liquid, highly purified gas is not inexpensive, but also critically important to properly maintain gas levels in the incubators. Finally, an incubator system with individual chambers and drawers for embryos is important to minimize temperature and gas fluctuations which fluctuate dramatically if a large standard incubator system is used. When we moved into our new lab we were able to acquire the best individually chambered low-O2, humidity controlled incubators available in the world. Much to the delight of our lab director.
None of this comes cheap. Despite this, we have the best and most affordable financial programs available. Our IVF witness program, a RFID system that electronically tracks all patient samples during IUIs and IVF treatments, is another example where no expense was spared to ensure the utmost peace of mind of our patients. If we positioned ourselves as the cheapest program in the area, none of what you just read would be possible. Remember, small is good, but with cheap… well, you get what you pay for.