Laser-Assisted Hatching

Laser-assisted hazard is an additional laboratory technique designed to improve the effectiveness of technological reproduction procedures such as IVF and ICSI.

Laser-Assisted Hatching (LAH)

Laser-assisted hatching (LAH) is a scientific in-vitro fertilisation technique that can make it easier for the embryo to hatch or break through its outer layer, a membrane also known as the zona pellucida, by creating an opening. In some situations, this layer is abnormally thick or hardened with the freezing and thawing process and this automatically makes hatching harder. That's when the assisted hatching technique helps. The advent of the laser has allowed the development of precision techniques to manipulate embryos for enhanced fertility. The less difficulty the embryo has in hatching, the better its chance of attaching or implanting into the wall of the uterus.

Zona pellucida is a membrane that surrounds the unfertilized egg. The zona has an important role in fertilisation as it allows only one sperm to penetrate and enter the egg to achieve fertilisation.

After that, at the cleavage stage of the embryo, the zona pellucida hardens. Laser-assisted hatching is an advanced technology used to increase the rate of successful implantation of the embryo. The goal of LAH is to overcome all the odds that are preventing implantation and achieve successful pregnancy.

For whom is laser-assisted hatching recommended for?

LAH is most suited for those who

  • Have a tendency to produce a harder and/or thicker zona pellucida
  • Are above the age of 37
  • Produce a high level of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) early in their cycle
  • Have had successive unsuccessful IVF cycles
  • Have poor embryo quality

How is it done?

LAH involves an embryologist sending a brief, strong light beam, under a microscope, to create a gap in the shell through which the embryo can come out. . It takes only a few seconds and does not harm the embryo, which is then transferred back into the patient's uterus to attach itself to the lining and continue growing.

The LAH procedure is undertaken on the 5th day after the IVF cycle or after thawing frozen embryos and transferring them. In this technique, a specialised laser is used to create a breach in the zona pellucida, which helps to create an opening. The laser will not come in direct contact with the embryo and is performed with utmost delicacy and precision, ensuring the safety of the embryo. The small opening made on the outer shell of the embryo before it is placed into the woman's body, makes the hatching process easier. This is done with the hope that the embryo will expand and implant into the uterine wall.

Though making a small crack in the zona pellucida sounds like a simple technique, it involves precise procedures and a skilled technician to perform it. The embryology lab needs to have specialised instruments to perform this advanced technology. But, the whole process is fairly quick and takes only a few seconds.

Advantages of laser-assisted hatching

A laser has been shown to be superior to other forms of assisted hatching (chemical and manual) thanks to several advantages:

  • Minimal handling of the embryo
  • Fast and accurate control in shell opening
  • Gentle and safe method, with no negative effects on the embryo
  • Wide availability to patients, and offered under clinical guidance

Assisted hatching is meant to get over whatever hurdles are preventing hatching. It's also hoped that it will improve the odds of implantation success and ultimately lead to a pregnancy.