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Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a advanced form of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). ICSI involves the injection of a single sperm directly into a mature egg using very fine micro-manipulation equipment.

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The Concept

Naturally, the fertilization process involves the penetration of a single sperm from the ejaculate into the egg (called oocyte in scientific terms) released during the menstrual cycle. Said sperm must penetrate the shell of the oocyte (called zona pellucida) to immediately after fuse with the female gamete.

Sometimes, either due to physiological deficiencies that may lead to a drastic reduction or absence in the production of gametes or due to poor gamete quality or defects in the interaction, the process of fertilization can be diminished or even prevented.

From the Assisted Reproduction Techniques (ART) perspective there are two main approaches to overcome these deficiencies: Conventional In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). Conventional IVF is based in the interaction between the oocytes and the sperm. After the egg retrieval, each oocyte and the set of cells that surround it (granulose cells) will be put in a drop of culture media containing a suspension of sperm at a given concentration. From this interaction a single sperm should penetrate into the egg to fertilize it.

Steps of ICSI

  •    Retrieval of the mature egg.
  •    Retrieval of healthy sperm with the help of a needle.
  •    Then the needle is carefully inserted through the shell of the egg and into the cytoplasm.
  •    The sperm is injected into the cytoplasm.
  •    Observation of the normal fertilization.

Why do you need ICSI?

  •    Severe cases of male-factor infertility.
  •    A very low sperm count.
  •    Abnormally shaped or slow sperm.
  •    Sperm quality is poor.

Limitations of the technique

Although the technique mimics the natural interaction between the gametes that occurs in the Fallopian tubes, it requires a certain semen concentration due to which not all samples are capable of being used for conventional IVF.

Likewise, the technique cannot solve the possible problems of interaction between female and male gamete so that the uncertainty about the success of the procedure is generally higher.