ICSI - Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection
ICSI currently is the most advanced technique available to treat male infertility. It is used in conjunction with IVF and involves an extremely precise microscopic surgical procedure.
ICSI can be used in cases where the male patient produces only a very small number of sperm that are incapable of penetrating the barriers surrounding the egg without assistance. This is usually because the sperm have extremely poor to no movement. ICSI is also mandatory when sperm is directly retrieved from the testes.
What is the procedure for ICSI?
ICSI is done as a part of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) procedure. Since both procedures performed in the laboratory, the IVF treatment will not seem that much different than an IVF treatment without ICSI. As with regular IVF, the female patient is required to take ovarian stimulating drugs, while the gynecologist monitors their growth progress in the meantime. Once enough follicles are produced, the female patient's eggs are removed from the patient's ovaries with a specialized microscopic needle.
Then, the male partner should provide his sperm sample on the same day, unless a sperm donor or previously frozen sperm is used. Once the eggs are retrieved, they are to be placed in a specialized culture, and using a microscope and a miniature needle, a single sperm is injected into each egg. Afterwards, if fertilization takes place and the embryos are healthy, up to three embryos are transfered into the female patient's uterus and the pregnancy can commence.
PICSI - Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
Until now, the only technique available to select the sperm has been visual observation. Using PICSI procedure we are able to determine sperm selection in much the same way it happens in human biology.
Sperm is placed in PICSI dish containing samples of hyaluronic hydrogel. Only biochemically competent sperm can bind to the hydrogel, where they are isolated to be used by the embryologist in the upcoming procedure. This procedure mimics a key step in the natural fertilization process, the binding of mature sperm to the oocyte complex, and allows only the mature and competent sperm to be used in fertilization. As a result, the selected mature sperm is essentially identical to the one that would be successful in fertilizing an egg during a natural reproductive process. Using this sperm in fertility procedures minimises the slight differences between in-vitro fertilization and natural reproductive process, allowing only the most potent and mature sperm to be used.