Our Infertility Laboratory
Solving the various fertility problems our patients at the Frisco Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Frisco, TX deal with requires excellent physicians and staff, the newest medical technology and outstanding laboratory processes and facilities. We are particularly proud of our laboratory, which is at the heart of most of our successful advanced infertility treatments. Our patients benefit from:
- World-class in vitro fertilization laboratory
- Highly purified, chemically scrubbed air for embryo incubation
- Access to time-lapse technology
- Pregnancy-proven egg freezing
- Continuous research
- Low-oxygen embryo culture
- Newest equipment and technologies
- On site, same-day hormone laboratory
- World-renowned lab director
- Dedicated, experienced, and board-certified embryologists
FIRM is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Our state-certified and nationally-accredited surgery and imaging center and accredited assisted reproductive laboratories perform all diagnostic and treatment procedures at one location. With some of the most modern equipment available and a technologically advanced air-purification system to sustain in vitro embryos, our facility was designed to consistently give couples an optimum chance to achieve a healthy pregnancy.
Custom Air Filtration Systems
The laboratories of FIRM operate in some of the cleanest air in the United States, enabling consistently excellent pregnancy rates without unexpected variation. The standards we maintain by far exceed the recommendations by the world governing bodies on assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as:
- The College of American Pathologists
- The European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology Guidelines for Good Practice in IVF Laboratories
- The European Commission Directive on technical requirements for the coding, processing, preservation, storage and distribution of human tissues and cells
- The European Guide to Good Manufacturing Practices
- The American Society for Reproductive Medicine Guidelines for Human Embryology and Andrology Laboratories
Due to the nature of embryology, we must have super clean air. Other than germs and bacteria, one of the greatest dangers to embryos is airborne chemical impurities like volatile organic compounds (VOC). A VOC can be the source of the smell in the cologne or perfume you just bought. A VOC is the equivalent of an acidic bullet hitting an embryo — they can never be tolerated in in vitro fertilization environments.
VOCs are so small, no normal air filter can remove them from the air. So FIRM invested in a high-level custom air filtration system. The apparatus is housed inside our roof that had to be specially designed and strengthened to support the weight of the machinery. When air travels to the lab, its journey begins atop our building where a snorkel apparatus sucks air into the heart of the system. The air then goes through no less than 90 active carbon and sodium permanganate devices (comes from highly processed volcanic rock) that act as a magnet for VOCs by interacting with them on a molecular level. As a result, when you are rolled into the surgery center or walk into the lab, you are in a place that is completely devoid of any smells, and breathing some of the cleanest air in the world. It’s an ideal place and environment for your embryos.
Our IVF Laboratory is at the heart of a successful outcome of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment cycle. It is here where eggs are exposed to the sperm and the resulting embryos are safeguarded and incubated for up to 6 days. The IVF laboratory contains computerized, low-oxygen incubators to keep the embryos at exactly the right temperature, humidity and the precise acidity level of the culture media. All embryos at FIRM are cultured in reduced oxygen, similar to the oxygen concentration in the mother’s womb. Research performed in our laboratory and published in Human Reproduction have shown that when embryos are cultured under these low-oxygen conditions, more girl embryos survive, resulting in higher pregnancy rates and more babies born.
Time-Lapse Embryo Evaluations
One of our lab’s newest cutting-edge technology is time-lapse assisted embryo culture. Normally, embryos are removed from the incubators once per day to obtain a snapshot of the embryo development. FIRM is currently the only IVF lab in Texas — and one of a few in the country — to offer time-lapse-assisted embryo selection utilizing computer-controlled microscopes. Embryos are cultured in the EmbryoScope®, a special incubator in which a computer takes a low-light-intensity picture every 5 minutes or less for the 6 days of embryo culture. A continuous video of embryo development can be observed without even opening the incubator a single time. Furthermore, patients can be provided with a dynamic video of their embryos’ development from fertilization all the way to the time of embryo transfer, rather than just having a one-time static picture.
Embryologists now have access to the minute-by-minute development of the embryo, can determine the duration of critical cleavage events, and are able to evaluate rates and synchronicity of cell division. As an additional benefit, embryo growth can be observed from the laboratory director’s office computer or even from home. With this information readily at hand, it is possible to identify embryos with the poorest chance of success and to observe temporal events that make the embryo more prone to genetic incompetency (e.g., direct cleavage, multi-nucleation and reverse cleavage). Not interrupting the delicate embryo culture environment for 6 days and being able to more accurately identify superior embryos for transfer and cryopreservation provide a distinct advantage for patients undergoing treatment at FIRM.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a way to assist with male-factor infertility where a sperm is injected directly into an egg. Because of the delicate movements and expertise necessary to perform this microscopic task, ICSI is performed using micromanipulators and a high-powered microscope that floats on air cylinders to minimize vibration. The first ICSI baby was only born in 1992. Since then, ICSI has ensured that even couples with severe male factor infertility now have the same chance for a healthy pregnancy as couples without male factor.
When undergoing treatment at the FIRM, our patients also have access to the College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited, high-complexity andrology laboratory that deals specifically with male infertility issues. The andrology laboratory can perform advanced semen analysis, including detailed counts, stained morphology assessments, and other specialized tests as indicated in order to determine the presence and/or extent of male factor infertility. This laboratory can also prepare samples for IUI, IVF, and ICSI.
The concentrations of reproductive hormones in the blood may provide vital information that can be essential to diagnose the cause(s) of infertility and to help achieve a healthy pregnancy. When managing infertility, such a specialized on-site hormone laboratory is essential for the following reasons:
- Accessibility to test results within 1 – 2 hours after the blood sample was drawn, allowing for real-time decisions for fertility treatment
- Ability to rerun test results when in question, or repeat tests with more accurate dilutions when required for pregnancy tests, as well as for monitoring of critical IUI and IVF stimulated cycles
- All equipment can be calibrated and optimized for fertility testing