Time-lapse monitoring of zona pellucida-free embryos obtained through in vitro fertilization: a retrospective case series

Fertil Steril. 2015 May;103(5):e35. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2015.02.016. Epub 2015 Mar 13.


Objective: To report time-lapse monitoring of human oocytes in which the damaged zona pellucida was removed, producing zona-free (ZF) oocytes that were cultured until the blastocyst stage in time-lapse incubators.

Design: Retrospective case series.

Setting: Private infertility clinic.

Patient(s): Infertile patients (n = 32) undergoing minimal ovarian stimulation or natural cycle IVF treatment between October 2012 and June 2014.

Intervention(s): Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) fertilization of ZF oocytes, prolonged embryo culture in time-lapse incubators, elective vitrification, and subsequent single vitrified-thawed blastocyst transfer (SVBT).

Main outcome measure(s): Rate of fertilization, cleavage and blastocyst development, live-birth rate per SVBT cycle.

Result(s): In spite of advanced maternal age (39 ± 4.2; range, 30-46 years), good fertilization (94%), cleavage (94%), and blastocyst development rates (38%) were reached after fertilization and culturing of ZF oocytes/embryos. All thawed ZF blastocysts survived, and up to this date seven SVBT transfers were performed, yielding three (43%) term live births with healthy newborns.

Conclusion(s): Time-lapse imagery gives a unique insight into the dynamics of embryo development in ZF embryos. Moreover, our case series demonstrate that an oocyte with a damaged zona pellucida that has been removed could be successfully fertilized with ICSI, cultured until blastocyst stage in a time-lapse incubator and vitrified electively for subsequent use.

Keywords: Time-lapse monitoring; blastocyst culture; in vitro fertilization; minimal ovarian stimulation; zona pellucida.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blastocyst / physiology*
  • Embryo Culture Techniques
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility / physiopathology
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Live Birth
  • Middle Aged
  • Oocytes / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic*
  • Time Factors
  • Time-Lapse Imaging*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitrification
  • Zona Pellucida / pathology*