Identification Measures for Frozen Embryos: How Does it Work?
Many couples have frozen embryos remaining in the lab after an IVF cycle. Whether they return for frozen embryo transfer after having a successful pregnancy or following an unsuccessful IVF cycle, proper tracking and identification of frozen embryos is vital.
With the tremendous advances in vitrification (freezing) technology over the past few years, freezing embryos is both extremely safe and successful. With our diligent labeling systems and impeccable record keeping, future parents can rest assured their embryos are in safe hands.
When you are ready to proceed with frozen embryo transfer, an embryologist locates the paperwork containing your name and your partner’s name, if applicable. Other identifiers, including the date that the embryos were frozen, the number of embryos that were frozen and the cell stage that embryo was at when it was frozen, are also used to locate specific samples.
To keep the embryos frozen, a vial or vials containing your embryos sits within liquid nitrogen in a large metal tank called a dewar. When it is time to thaw your embyo(s), two embryologists identify the vial’s labels, and match them to paperwork containing your patient identifiers. Both initial the paperwork, signing off that the embryos were correctly identified.
The Embryo Thawing Process
After the embryos are thawed, they are placed in a culture dish that lists your name, along with a second identifier. The dish is then transferred to an incubator with its identifying features still in place.
Before transferring the embryos into your uterus, two embryologists confirm the identity of the embryos within the dish. Again, both sign off that they have correctly identified the embryos, and that the transfer can then take place.
Finally, the embryologist enters the operating room where he or she identifies the patient – confirming their identity with that listed on their medical wrist band. An operating room nurse then performs a “time out” by reading the patient’s name and birth date loud enough so that the embryologist, physician, patient, and any respective family members within the room can hear. This is the final act of identity confirmation, and after receiving verbal confirmation from the patient and physician, the embryologist signs off on the patient’s embryos, allowing them to be transferred.
With all of these security measures in place, you should have little concern about the process of freezing, storing, and transferring your frozen embryos. Thanks to modern technology and professionals who are trained in and follow set guidelines, patients can rest assured that their embryos are safe and secure.