Incubator Failure
2 Replies
Sam 16 - September 5

This is our second round of ivf (First time resulted in BFP - but then resulted in one miscarriage and then second embryo in an ectopic ).
Friday 01/09/06 was our ET day - the consultant escorted us from the waiting room into a consultantion room. Both me and DH was expecting him to say that we didn't have any embryos to be transferred but this wasn't the case.

Basically he told us that the incubator where the embryos were been nurtured had 'shut down' in the night - therefore meaning that the temp of the embryos went from body temp to room temp. The clinic can't establish how long the incubator had been off and the consultant could not give any guarantees - a positive preg, health of baby etc. He said there was no medical literature on what had happened.

As you can imagine both DH and I were devastated -of all the things we never imagined this would be against us. The clinic have confirmed they will fund the next cycle but this really isn't the point - what is this time was meant to be our time! We chose to have the best two put back (Grade 2s) but now i am so worried. Can you please give any information for the proabality of pregnacy and then of the health of the baby.

Many thanks



Dr Smith - September 5

Well... Its probably a problem. Embryos are routinely cooled to room temperature during the inital phases of cryopreservation with no ill effects. However, this is for a brief 20 minute interval in the presence of cryoprotectants. Not a prolonged period.

I found this study about the effect of cooling to room temperature on eggs - not embryos. Embryos may be different. Meiotic spindles hold the chromosomes together inside the cell. If the spidles disintegrate, the chromomes are left free-floating. Definately not a good thing. Can lead to abnormal number of chromosomes in each of the daughter cells following subsequent cell division.

Summary as follows:

Hum Reprod. 2001 Nov;16(11):2374-8.

[b]Limited recovery of meiotic spindles in living human ocytes after cooling-rewarming observed using polarized light microscopy.[/b]

Wang WH, Meng L, Hackett RJ, Odenbourg R, Keefe DL.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that human meiotic spindles are exquisitely sensitive to alterations in temperature. The maintenance of temperature at 37 degrees C during in-vitro manipulation is important for spindle integrity and, therefore, is likely to be important for normal fertilization and subsequent embryo development.

I don't know your location, but all IVF labs in the US must have an emergency back up system to prevent power failures from affecting incubator function. If the incubator itself malfunctioned, there was no way to forsee this. Preventitive maintenence may have prevented this from occuring, but not necessarily.


Sam 16 - September 5

Many thanks for the reply.



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