Embryoscope is available at CRM

The Centre for Reproductive Medicine at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust offers Embryoscope time lapse monitoring as an optional extra to IVF or ICSI treatment. The Embryoscope provides digital images every 10 minutes while embryos are in the IVF laboratory, which can be from 1 to 6 days.

The unprecedented detail of early embryonic development helps clinical embryologists to choose the embryo(s) with the best chances of implantation to transfer or store frozen. Moreover, embryos do not need to be removed from the incubator for daily observation, so they experience a more stable environment.

There is conflicting evidence about whether Embryoscope and other time lapse imaging systems increase the chances of pregnancy. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority classes time-lapse monitoring as an ‘add-on’ and grades ‘add-ons’ using a traffic light system based upon its interpretation of the evidence available. See https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/treatment-add-ons/.

At CRM, Embryoscope monitoring is a popular option that has been available for more than 10 years. The alternative to Embryoscope is a specialised IVF/ICSI incubator (BT37) containing an identical environment, but without the ability to take pictures. In our experience, the average pregnancy rate for people who choose Embryoscope is consistently higher than for those who do not choose it. We have analysed our own data to reach this conclusion and our results are presented in the table. On average, 6.1% more patients became pregnant following an embryo transfer in the embryoscope group than the non-embryoscope group.

The table also shows results for patients who meet a certain set of characteristics.  We call this our ‘quality control’ group. This helps us to undertake ‘like-for-like’ comparison, in similar types of patients, which makes the comparison more rigorous. For the ‘quality control’ group, use or not of embryoscope is the key point of comparison. On average, 11.4% more such patients became pregnant if they used embryoscope.


Clinical pregnancy rates per embryo transfer, with and without embryoscope CRM data, January 2016 - august 2020

  Number of patients using Embryoscope Clinical pregnancy rate using Embryoscope Number of patients using other incubator (BT37) Clinical pregnancy rate using other incubator (BT37) Difference between Embryoscope and other incubator (BT37)
All patients, all ages ** 1700 44.5% 281 35.9% 8.6%
Female age less than 35 * 970 53.2% 163 43.6% 9.6%
Female age 36 - 39 493 37.3% 76 32.9% 4.4%
Female age 40 or more 236 23.3% 42 11.9% 11.4%
Quality control group (age less than 37, 1st attempt, negative for viral diseases, at least 3 eggs fertilised) ** 638 59.1% 113 44.3% 14.8%

The difference in pregnancy rates for rows marked ** is 'significant at p<0.01' which means that this result could occur by chance fewer than one in 100 times.
The difference in pregnancy rate for the row marked * is 'significant at p<0.05' which means that this result could occur by chance fewer than one in 20 times.
Rows not marked with a * are not significant results. These rows have lower numbers of transfers overall and more data is needed before we can draw conclusions for these groups.

Embryoscope monitoring is not NHS-funded.  However, generous support from two local charities, WPH Charitable Foundation and ‘Gift of a Life’, enabled us to set up an Embryoscope service through a research clinic led by Professor Geraldine Hartshorne, Scientific Director of CRM.  Professor Hartshorne is an international expert in human egg and embryo development and an active researcher at the University of Warwick. Most patients using the Embryoscope also opt into our research programmes, supporting our work in understanding fertility and improving treatments for the future. However, participation in research is voluntary, and the embryoscope is available as an option, regardless of whether or not you choose to participate in our research projects.

Patients using the Embryoscope pay a fee, currently £390, to cover the running costs. Embryo images are available. People who would like a detailed discussion about their embryos can request a consultation with Professor Geraldine Hartshorne. This can be useful when considering further treatment or awaiting a follow-up consultation with a medical consultant.

CRM patients wishing to book an Embryoscope clinic appointment or an Embryoscope follow-up appointment, or for any other Embryoscope-related queries, please contact the Embryoscope Clinic on 02476 967528 or embryoscope@uhcw.nhs.uk