Morphological assessment of embryo viability

Semin Reprod Med. 2014 Mar;32(2):114-26. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1363553. Epub 2014 Feb 10.


Morphological assessment is discussed in the context of significant literature at all stages of in vitro development, beginning with the oocyte and culminating at the blastocyst stage. Current evidence is used to debate the inclusion of commonly observed morphological features in grading schemes. The biological rationale behind observed phenomena such as multinucleation and fragmentation are also explored. Current limitations as well as technological advancements that increase our ability to assess viability are highlighted. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between developmental timing and assessment schemes. Failure to standardize assessment timing and inclusion criteria is glaring weaknesses of the literature that currently make consensus unattainable. Mounting evidence suggests that the future of static assessment is very likely to be influenced by information gathered from preimplantation genetic screening and other invasive techniques as well as from continuous monitoring tools such as time lapse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Shape*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cleavage Stage, Ovum
  • Embryo Implantation
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Oocytes / cytology
  • Oocytes / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Research Design
  • Single Embryo Transfer / standards