Definition - What does Micromanipulation mean?

Micromanipulation is a technique used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) that involves manipulation of the eggs, sperm, and embryos at a cellular level using microscopic instruments. It can be used to inject a sperm into a mature egg to aid fertilization, to assist with the hatching of a blastocyst, and for the diagnosis of genetic abnormalities in the embryo prior to implantation. Micromanipulation can help couples with both male and female factor infertility to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

FertilitySmarts explains Micromanipulation

Micromanipulation techniques use expensive and delicate instruments smaller than cells that are connected to fine motor-driven robot arms controlled by complex joysticks and pedals. Sometimes microscopic laser beams are used to make openings or cuts in cell membranes. Due to the level of sophistication of this process, micromanipulation is also called cell surgery or microsurgery. Micromanipulation is often used in procedures that are designed to "workaround" either existing or unknown conditions that may impact fertility.

Some of the procedures in IVF that use micromanipulation include:

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - An individual sperm is collected and injected into the mature egg
  • Assisted hatching - The outer membrane that surrounds the blastocyst is weakened to facilitate hatching and the eventual implantation of the embryo.
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) - A few cells surrounding the embryo are taken out and screened for genetic abnormalities prior to transfer.
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