Today, with advanced Gynecology, Andrology and IVF treatments, several couples struggling with infertility issues are realizing their dreams of becoming parents. Infertility can be female infertility or male infertility. The most common causes of female infertility are issues with ovulation, cervix problem and damage to fallopian tube or uterus. Sperm quality or Varicocele are common male infertility related issues. Medical equipment are playing an important role in vastly improving infertility treatments and better outcomes. This article talks about the important equipment for IVF and Andrology Lab.
Scope of Infertility treatment could range from simple medication, hormone treatment to IUI, Surgical interventions or IVF.
Accordingly, typical Infertility treatment centres could have facilities including, Consultation & Diagnostics for both Women and Men’s Health, Andrology Lab, IUI Room, Embryology Lab, Andrology OT, IVF OT and other areas like Counselling room, sperm collection room, Recovery room, CSSD etc.
One can decide on what equipment to buy based on their budget and scope of work they want to address.
Equipment in Consultation & Diagnostics for IVF & Andrology
Infertility can be diagnosed by several simpler methods like urine or blood test, pelvic and breast examination or more invasive – laparoscopic examination of internal organs. Gynecologist may examine uterine abnormalities using hysteroscopy or perform abdominal or vaginal scanning of uterus and ovaries using ultrasound machine. Hormone tests, Physical examination and Semen Analysis are done for males.
In keeping with the above examination and test requirements, apart from a normal ObGyn Consultation room, a good Women’s health focused Ultrasound machine would be required. Popular ultrasound machine models for women’s health include, GE Voluson P8, GE Voluson S6 or S8. High-end models such as GE Voluson E8 or E10 can be used in a multi-specialty Hospital.
Common problems addressed in the Men’s Health area include – Erectile Dysfunction, Ejaculatory Dysfunction, sperm count, motility or morphology related issues, Varicocele and other penile and sexual issues.
Periscope, PST Machine, Sphygmocor, Vibrator machine, Vascular Reactivity Testing, UDS / Uroflow machine etc., may be used in men’s health clinics apart from ultrasound machine for examinations and tests.
• Hormonal treatment is given to treat the cases of hormonal imbalance, menstrual irregularities and endometriosis.
• Medication may be given to stimulate ovulation.
• Antibiotic treatment may be given for any infection.
Equipment for Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI) Room
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure for placing washed/ rinsed semen in a uterus during ovulation period.
The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. This procedure is useful if sperm count or motility is poor.
If there is no Andrology Lab then, just a stand-alone IUI facility needs sperm preparation and insemination related devices, including:
1. Sperm Counting chamber
2. Laminar Airflow
4. Test tube warmer
5. Binocular Microscope
6. Examination couch, Spot light
In addition of course disposable devices such as IUI catheter, test tubes etc. will be required.
Equipment for Andrology Lab
Other laboratory equipment such as Cell Counter, Bio-chemistry analyzer, Immunoassay Analyser, Eliza reader, flow cytometry are all required for overall male health assessment including harmone analysis.
Other equipment, devices and lab reagents, chemicals and solutions that are important are – centrifuge/ Spermfuge, laminar airflow, test tube warmer, pipettes, inverted microscope, dry incubator, cryo cans, sperm collection, vitrification devices, stains and other processing agents etc.
Equipment for Andrology OT
Andrology Operating Theatre is needed for surgical procedures such as surgical sperm retrieval, varicocele surgery, vasectomy, prostate, bladder, colon surgeries and several other procedures to help improve men’s sexual and general wellbeing. Click here for more information on Andrology & Men’s Health.
Typical OT equipment such as OT Table, OT Light, Anesthesia machine, cautery machine, Laproscope, CO2 insufflator, Irrigation pumps etc. are required in the Andrology OT.
Equipment for Embryology Lab and IVF OT
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilization where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro (“in glass”). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a laboratory.
There are two ways that an egg may be fertilized by IVF: traditional and ICSI.
Traditional IVF process – In traditional IVF, 50,000 or more swimming sperm are placed next to the egg in a laboratory dish. Fertilization occurs when one of the sperm enters into the cytoplasm of the egg.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – ICSI is a technique where a single sperm is assisted to ‘enter’ the egg. In the ICSI process, a tiny needle, called a micropipette, is used to inject a single sperm into the center of the egg under a microscope.
Since only one sperm is needed to fertilise the egg, the embryologist catches a single sperm and injects it directly into the centre of the egg. This method may be necessary if the egg covering is too hard to penetrate or if there is male infertility problems (Low sperm count or motility).
After 2–6 days the fertilized egg (zygote) is implanted in the Mother or a surrogate Mother’s uterus.
Embryology Lab has to be an extremely sterile environment for high success rates. Hence these labs use a lot of Air-purification equipment, air-curtains, laminar airflow, positive air pressure unit etc.
Apart from ICSI or IMSI machines, other important equipment are centrifuge, CO2/ Trigas/ Dry incubators, Oocyte/ Ovum aspiration pumps, Laser Hatching System, cryo cans, embryoscope etc.
Other usual OT equipment including a Laroscopy Tower are essential for various gynecology procedures. Blockage or scar tissue from fallopian tube and uterus can be removed after minor surgical procedure.
Role of medical equipment in success of IVF & Andrology treatments
Apart from the skills of the Fertility specialist and embryologist, success of IVF treatment depends a lot on the quality of environment in the lab and equipment used for IVF and Andrology treatments.
For e.g. Laminar airflow – create appropriate sterile environment, high-end microscopes of different types are essential for various purposes.– e.g. Upright microscopes are used for semen analysis and sperm preparation, stereo zoom microscopes are used for first sorting, inverted microscopes are used to assess morphology, ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) system and IMSI require high resolution and high contrast microscopy. Centrifuges are required for semen recovery. Sperm counting chamber is a device for accurate count of sperm. It also helps in evaluation of their motility and morphology from undiluted specimen.
Cryopreservation equipment is essential for preserving human sperm, eggs and embryos under right conditions in the laboratory. Many other equipment assist in good IVF treatment. For more details of IVF equipment and their use, please read the following blog.
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