As part of the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process, oocytes (or eggs) are retrieved from the patient’s ovaries for fertilization – a process known as oocyte (egg) retrieval.
Following light sedation of the patient, an ultrasound machine is used to visualize, locate and retrieve individual eggs from the ovarian follicles. The samples (also known as follicular aspirates) are passed directly from the operating room to the embryology laboratory, where they are examined for eggs.
As eggs are located under a microscope, the embryologist isolates them and places them in a holding dish, where they are separated from the oocyte cumulus cells that surround them. The isolated eggs are then washed and placed into an incubator, with patient-specific identifiers on the dish and the incubator.
From this point, the next step in processing is determined based on the patients’ individual treatment protocol. Options include: