BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA.com) — A cutting-edge device is giving new hope to women trying to conceive.
The machine, called the EmbryoScope, promises to make the current standard of in vitro fertilization, the process in which eggs are fertilized by sperm in a laboratory, more effective.
"It's a type of incubator that has a camera attached to it that takes time lapse photography," said Dr. Mark Surrey, a reproductive surgeon at the Southern California Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills.
Surrey said in regular IVF, embryos must be removed once a day from incubators to be checked. With the EmbryoScope, they are monitored 24/7 without being moved.
"It allows us to observe and chronicle the development of embryos without disturbing them," he said.
In both methods, doctors choose the healthiest embryos to be implanted into womb, but the EmbryoScope's intense monitoring helps them catch any irregularities that the current standard of IVF may miss.
Therefore, there's a better chance for a healthy baby.
"It probably is capable of improving upon the success rates by well in excess of 10 percent per cycle, per patient," said Surrey.
The EmbryoScope also allows doctors to implant just one healthy embryo, which lessens the chance of multiple births.
Dr. Ingrid Rodi, a fertility specialist from St. John's Health Center, said she's not ready to jump on the bandwagon.
The EmbryoScope was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, and she said there isn't enough research yet to prove its effectiveness.
"We really need to design the studies in a prospective way as opposed to looking backwards," said Rodi.
One cycle of regular IVF costs anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000. It's an additional $1,750 for the EmbryoScope at the Southern California Reproductive Center.
Emily Harrison, 35, an EmbryoScope patient, said any advance in science is worth the price and hype so she can make her dream of having a baby a reality.
"At some point you have to say, 'I'm 35 and I should plan for the future,'" she said. "A weight has been lifted...to think I have these four healthy embryos in the bank frozen and they're just waiting for whenever I'm ready, so it's really a relief."
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