Study question: How does automated time-lapse annotation (Eeva™) compare to manual annotation of the same video images performed by embryologists certified in measuring durations of the 2-cell (P2; time to the 3-cell minus time to the 2-cell, or t3-t2) and 3-cell (P3; time to 4-cell minus time to the 3-cell, or t4-t3) stages?
Summary answer: Manual annotation was superior to the automated annotation provided by Eeva™ version 2.2, because manual annotation assigned a rating to a higher proportion of embryos and yielded a greater sensitivity for blastocyst prediction than automated annotation.
What is known already: While use of the Eeva™ test has been shown to improve an embryologist's ability to predict blastocyst formation compared to Day 3 morphology alone, the accuracy of the automated image analysis employed by the Eeva™ system has never been compared to manual annotation of the same time-lapse markers by a trained embryologist.
Study design, size, duration: We conducted a prospective cohort study of embryos (n = 1477) cultured in the Eeva™ system (n = 8 microscopes) at our institution from August 2014 to February 2016.
Participants/materials, setting, methods: Embryos were assigned a blastocyst prediction rating of High (H), Medium (M), Low (L), or Not Rated (NR) by Eeva™ version 2.2 according to P2 and P3. An embryologist from a team of 10, then manually annotated each embryo and if the automated and manual ratings differed, a second embryologist independently annotated the embryo. If both embryologists disagreed with the automated Eeva™ rating, then the rating was classified as discordant. If the second embryologist agreed with the automated Eeva™ score, the rating was not considered discordant. Spearman's correlation (ρ), weighted kappa statistics and the intra-class correlation (ICC) coefficients with 95% confidence intervals (CI) between Eeva™ and manual annotation were calculated, as were the proportions of discordant embryos, and the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and NPV of each method for blastocyst prediction.
Main results and the role of chance: The distribution of H, M and L ratings differed by annotation method (P < 0.0001). The correlation between Eeva™ and manual annotation was higher for P2 (ρ = 0.75; ICC = 0.82; 95% CI 0.82-0.83) than for P3 (ρ = 0.39; ICC = 0.20; 95% CI 0.16-0.26). Eeva™ was more likely than an embryologist to rate an embryo as NR (11.1% vs. 3.0%, P < 0.0001). Discordance occurred in 30.0% (443/1477) of all embryos and was not associated with factors such as Day 3 cell number, fragmentation, symmetry or presence of abnormal cleavage. Rather, discordance was associated with direct cleavage (P2 ≤ 5 h) and short P3 (≤0.25 h), and also factors intrinsic to the Eeva™ system, such as the automated rating (proportion of discordant embryos by rating: H: 9.3%; M: 18.1%; L: 41.3%; NR: 31.4%; P < 0.0001), microwell location (peripheral: 31.2%; central: 23.8%; P = 0.02) and Eeva™ microscope (n = 8; range 22.9-42.6%; P < 0.0001). Manual annotation upgraded 82.6% of all discordant embryos from a lower to a higher rating, and improved the sensitivity for predicting blastocyst formation.
Limitations, reasons for caution: One team of embryologists performed the manual annotations; however, the study staff was trained and certified by the company sponsor. Only two time-lapse markers were evaluated, so the results are not generalizable to other parameters; likewise, the results are not generalizable to future versions of Eeva™ or other automated image analysis systems.
Wider implications of the findings: Based on the proportion of discordance and the improved performance of manual annotation, clinics using the Eeva™ system should consider manual annotation of P2 and P3 to confirm the automated ratings generated by Eeva™.
Study funding/competing interest(s): These data were acquired in a study funded by Progyny, Inc. There are no competing interests.
Trial registration number: N/A.
Keywords: IVF; blastocyst prediction; discordance; morphokinetic; time-lapse imaging.
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