Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI)

Definition - What does Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI) mean?

Physiological intracytoplasmic sperm injection (PICSI) is a procedure in assisted reproduction where a specialized tool is used to select healthy motile sperm that is then injected directly into the egg for fertilization. The sperm is introduced to a dish that contains drops of hyaluronic acid, a component that forms the outer wall of the egg, and the sperm cells that effectively bind to hyaluronic acid are selected for fertilization.

Physiological intracytoplasmic sperm injection is helpful in the treatment of fertility when conventional methods of intracytoplasmic sperm injection fail, or if the sperm quality is poor that it is likely to result in failure.

FertilitySmarts explains Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI)

During intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a harvested egg is fertilized by directly injecting a healthy sperm into the cytoplasm of the egg to form an embryo that is later transferred into a uterus. In conventional ICSI, the selection of healthy sperm for injection is done by looking at the sperm through a microscope and then selecting the sperm cells that appear most healthy and motile.

Mature sperm contain specific receptors that match hyaluronic acid molecules so they bind to hyaluronic acid. This means that the ability of a sperm to bind to hyaluronic acid indicates the health of the sperm in terms of their maturity and the integrity of the genetic material, the DNA. The sperm that binds to hyaluronic acid has a much greater chance of a successful pregnancy than sperm that does not.

PISCI is not the first choice in assisted reproduction as it is more expensive and requires additional handling and expertise. It is beneficial in couples with:

  • Failure of conventional ISCI
  • Poor embryo development in previous in vitro fertilization cycles
  • A high rate of DNA damage in sperm
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