Time-lapse imaging (EmbryoScope)

Embryo development monitoring

HCA UK provides embryo development monitoring as part of its IVF treatment options.

What is time-lapse imaging in IVF?

In IVF, time-lapse imaging is used to help select the embryos most likely to successfully develop into a baby. In conventional IVF, the embryologist will check the developing embryos each day under a microscope, which involves removing them from the incubator for a brief period.

Time-lapse imaging allows the embryologist to take thousands of images of the embryos as they grow without disturbing them. Not only does this mean the embryos do not have to be removed from the incubator, it also allows the embryologist to get a continuous view of each embryo as it develops, rather than just viewing them once a day.

The embryologist can then choose a specific embryo for implantation based on criteria such as rate of development and the number and appearance of cells. Indeed, being undisturbed while they grow may improve the quality of the embryos.

EmbryoScope is the world's most used time-lapse system that allows embryologists to monitor your developing embryos throughout their development.

How can time-lapse imaging help?

  • Minimises embryo handling: Conventionally, embryologists are required to remove the culture dish that contains developing embryos from the incubator daily to formally evaluate their development and quality. The EmbryoScope technology is the only time-lapse system with an integrated high stability incubator that minimizes embryo handling by taking regular images of the embryos without disturbing them.
  • Potential to improve embryo selection: Alongside standard embryo selection techniques, the EmbryoScope technology may improve the selection of embryos with the highest potential for implantation. Certain markers of embryo development are programmed to occur within specific windows of time and if an embryo achieves these either too quickly or too slowly this may suggest a lower embryo potential.
  • Documentation of development: Full video documentation of your embryo development for future reference.

What's the evidence for it?

There have been various studies to try and see if time-lapse imaging can improve birth rates. Initial research has shown some promise, but it’s still very early days. There is certainly not enough evidence to show that time-lapse imaging improves birth rates, which is something you may want to consider if it’s being offered to you at an extra cost.

Are there any risks?

No, there are no known risks to the woman or her embryos from time-lapse imaging.

The Lister Fertility Clinic's opinion on time-lapse imaging

At the Lister Fertility Clinic we are very confident of the quality and therefore outcomes of our current incubation methods and therefore do not routinely use time-lapse incubators in all our cycles.

We have two EmbryoScope machines that are sometimes recommended where a clinician or embryologist feels that the information on timing of embryo development may be useful for embryo selection above and beyond conventional methods or may aid understanding of causes of cycle failure

Fertility "add-ons"

A fertility "add-on" is an "optional extras that you may be offered on top of your normal fertility treatment, often at an additional cost. They’re typically emerging techniques that may have shown some promising results in initial studies but haven’t necessarily been proven to improve pregnancy or birth rates."

The HFEA "traffic light rating" for this treatment is "amber", suggesting that there is a growing body of evidence which is showing promising results but where further research is still required.

Our fertility consultants

We're proud to work with leading fertility experts across a range of medical fields, including gynaecology and urology. 

Our team of consultants is supported by embryologists, sonographers and counsellors, as well as experienced fertility trained nurse practitioners.

Our locations

From complex fertility treatment and surgery to diagnostic tests and scans, we provide access to exceptional fertility and reproductive care across our network of fertility clinics.

Contact us about having fertility treatment

Our helpline advisors can assist with enquiries and help book an appointment with a fertility specialist. Alternatively you can submit a request for an appointment at one of our fertility clinics.


Request an appointment at Lister Fertility Clinic, Chelsea

Request an appointment at Lister Fertility Clinic, The Portland Hospital

Enquiries & Appointments

020 7881 2000
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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