PolScope technology combines innovations in polarisation optics (special lighting and lenses) with novel image-processing software and is used as an add-on technique for the ICSI procedure. When performing conventional ICSI the egg is rotated so that the polar body is aligned at 12 o’clock because generally the spindle (which is necessary to help the developing embryo divide) lies immediately below the polar body. By injecting the sperm at about 3 o’clock damage to the spindle is theoretically avoided.
So what is the advantage to using PolScope technology? Use of the polscope has shown that the spindle does not necessarily lie near the polar body. In up to 2/3 of cases, the spindle is not related to the polar body and therefore that spindle may be damaged by the injection needle during the ICSI process. Disruption of the spindle may affect fertilisation and how the embryo divides. Use of the polscope allows Next Generation Fertility embryologists to align the spindle to 12 o’clock, prior to injection of the sperm, avoiding damage to the egg’s genes. It also allows them to identify eggs without spindles, increasing the information available to the patient and their doctor regarding the quality of the eggs produced. It may also provide reasons for unexplained outcomes.
Using the PolScope appears to have a significant effect on the quality of embryos produced during a cycle. Overall this appears to increase the number of quality embryos suitable for use (transfer or cryopreservation). The technique is difficult and time consuming for the embryologists involved however may provide significant advantages for patients undergoing ART.