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Micromanipulation Medically Reviewed

Last Updated: April 17, 2020

Definition - What does Micromanipulation mean?

Micromanipulation is a technique used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) that involves the manipulation of the eggs, sperm, and embryos at a cellular level using microscopic instruments by an embryologist. 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 individuals or 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 require delicate instruments smaller than embryo 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 cytoplasm of a mature egg
  • Assisted hatching (AZH) - The outer protein membrane that surrounds the embryo or blastocyst is weakened to facilitate hatching and the eventual implantation of the embryo.
  • Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) - A few cells surrounding the embryo are taken out and screened for genetic abnormalities and frozen and wait for the results on the appropriateness for transfer.
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