The advent of the laser has allowed the development of precision techniques to manipulate embryos for enhanced fertility. Laser-assisted hatching can turn around a history of failure for embryos to implant themselves in the uterine wall.
Assisted hatching is used to help the embryo hatch from its protective outer shell, the zona pellucida, and promote implantation in the uterine wall after embryo transfer. Laser-Assisted Hatching (LAH) with the LYKOS or ZILOS-tk uses a highly focused infrared laser beam to remove the zona pellucida in exact increments before the clinical availability of the lasers, and only mechanical, chemical methods could be used for assisted hatching of human embryos in clinical settings. Laser-assisted hatching requires less handling of the embryo than these other assisted hatching methods. Also, Laser-assisted hatching is faster than the other methods and, the embryo spends less time outside the incubator.
The procedure 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. This is usually done three days after fertilization occurs during an IVF or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) cycle when the embryo has begun to cleave (divide). It takes only a few seconds and does not harm the embryo. The embryo is then transferred back into the patient’s uterus to attach to the lining and grow.