IVF incubators are the most important piece of equipment in the IVF laboratory. In order to grow embryos in the laboratory, conditions must be absolutely perfect. The IVF incubator provides these conditions. IVF incubators control the temperature, humidity and the concentrations of essential gases: oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
IVF incubators: Background
Early versions of IVF incubators were the size of a washing machine and was lined with several shelves. Embryos from several patients would be stored in the incubator at the same time. This was problematic. Every time the door to the incubator was opened for the embryologist to work with the embryos, the tightly controlled environment inside the incubator would be lost. It would take the incubator an extended period of time to re-establish the correct conditions. During this time, however, the embryos would be exposed to sub-optimal conditions.
Due to the fact that several patients would be kept in the IVF incubator at the same time, the door would be opened and closed numerous times in order to work with all the different embryos when needed. Studies have demonstrated that the more times the IVF incubator door was opened, the lower the pregnancy rates would be for the IVF center.
Older IVF incubators are sometimes referred to as “single gas” or “CO2 incubators” since they only supply CO2 (carbon dioxide). IVF incubators incorporating the newest technologies are referred to “tri-gas” or “low oxygen” IVF incubators. Studies have shown that tri-gas incubators have superior embryo development and improved pregnancy rates compared to older CO2 incubators.
IVF incubators at Naperville Fertility Center
The philosophy for caring for embryos at Naperville Fertility Center is simple, provide the best technology and utilize the best protocols for embryo development – regardless of the expense.
Naperville Fertility Center uses advanced MINC benchtop incubators. These IVF incubators are much smaller than older CO2 incubators, they are about the size of a shoebox. The MINC is an extremely efficient IVF incubator that significantly reduces the amount of time embryos are exposed to disruptions in temperature and pH levels. If the lid is opened to work with embryos, it takes only three minutes to reestablish optimal conditions in the MINC versus nearly two hours in other incubators.
Each IVF incubator at Naperville Fertility Center is dedicated for one patient couple at a time. This eliminates the problem of opening and closing the incubator door needlessly when working with embryos from other patients and further minimizes any disruption of the environment inside the incubator.