Inside the IVF Lab
In 2015 alone, embryologists in our Rockville, MD, lab—the largest in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the United States—performed 4,100 IVF treatments and close to 2,050 frozen embryo transfers (FET) treatment cycles. In our Towson, MD lab, Shady Grove Fertility embryologists conducted 1,212 cycles and 427 FETs. And, in Chesterbrook, PA, embryologists guided patients through 304 IVF cycles and 252 FETs.
The volume of patients that SGF treats, and thereby the vast experience and expertise gained, equates to 22.8 treatments per calendar day between the three laboratories.
Success rates for the two procedures—IVF and FET—are currently at 51 percent and 59 percent, respectively, for patients under 35.
These success rates mean that, as a result of the efforts of these embryologists, Shady Grove Fertility is successfully helping at least nine families achieve their goal of pregnancy per calendar day in our Rockville lab alone—or 3,285 families per year.
The person overseeing it all is our IVF lab director, James (Jim) Graham, MS. Today, Jim takes us behind the scenes of this new lab and gives us some insight into its features that will help Shady Grove Fertility continue to increase the likelihood that you will achieve your dream of a family.
“The number of procedures our experts perform each day, paired with an ever-evolving array of reproductive technology techniques, lead us to expand our IVF laboratory—doubling both the physical space and the stock of state-of-the-art equipment. This expansion gives us the space and workforce necessary to continue to support the development of our Shady Grove Fertility families,” says Graham.
1.Improved Air Quality
When creating and developing embryos, maintaining an environment with exceptionally clean air is essential.
Clinical evidence proves that poor air quality negatively affects both fertilization and early-stage development of embryos.
We maintain the best possible air quality in our IVF labs with a state-of-the-art Hepa filtration system. Our multi-faceted system filters out both solids (or particulate matter) and gasses (or volatile organic compounds (VOCs)).
Even the humidity within the room is controlled, ensuring pristine air quality throughout the laboratory space.
By maintaining a clean room in which we perform delicate procedures, we eliminate the possibility of poor air quality negatively impacting our work. Instead, we increase the likelihood of successful fertilization, embryo development, and, ultimately, pregnancy.
2. Isolated Incubator Spaces
The longer we can leave your embryos undisturbed to develop, the more likely they are to become high-quality, viable embryos.
Now, thanks to a substantially increased number of isolated incubator spaces in our new lab, we can better leave cultures undisturbed.
In our previous lab, we had 276 dish spaces. Now, we have over 800. With 800 mini incubator chambers, we can give each and every patient her own space for embryo development.
The use of isolated chambers represents a major improvement in the IVF process. Previously, spaces were shared by multiple patients—meaning the environment for one patient’s developing embryos would impact another each time an embryologist needed to access the embryos of another patient using the same space.
In our new lab, each patient’s space is only accessed when an embryologist is doing an assessment or performing a procedure for that particular patient. Because we can keep embryos in a more controlled, consistent environment, we can ensure optimal success rates for our patients.
3. Rigorous and Comprehensive Training Protocols
Shady Grove Fertility embryologists have always undergone a rigorous training program. Our program takes 4 to 5 years to complete and requires trainees to progress through a robust series of mentorships, on-the-job training, and scaffolded exposure to different procedures.
Our embryologists learn procedures in isolation, often taking several months to master each one before receiving the necessary clearance to perform the procedure unassisted.
Our embryologists have a wealth of experience, even prior to our training. Members of our team come to us after earning their stripes in research or biological sciences fields. Before joining our team, they earned a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or Ph.D.
While we haven’t modified our already stringent training requirement in our new lab, the increased space allows us to do even more training. Now, we have double the amount of equipment with which we can train new embryologists more effectively. We can offer more frequent exposure to a variety of procedures, ensuring our fertility specialists are even better prepared to handle IVF-related tasks.
Because we can prepare more embryologists more quickly without compromising our expectations, we can better ensure that a skilled professional is available to give you and your embryos the one-on-one attention you need and deserve.
4. Double Operating Room System
Not only do we have more space inside the lab, but we also have more spaces connected to the lab.
Our previous laboratory connected to one operating room where Shady Grove Fertility doctors performed egg retrievals. Now, we have a double operating room system.
With twice the operating space, we can perform more egg retrievals daily.
We can also conduct all egg retrievals in a more consistent manner. For example, when we have the space to schedule all egg retrievals in the morning, we can then fertilize the eggs at approximately the same time of day. The double operating room system also allows us to complete all embryo transfers earlier in the day, adding convenience for our patients and physicians.
Because Shady Grove Fertility has always run a high-volume IVF laboratory, our embryology staff were exceptionally well prepared to handle any expansion—even the doubling of both laboratory space and operating rooms.
We pride ourselves on our chain of custody procedure—the process by which we track the identity of patients and their embryos.
We employ a system of both active and passive patient identification thereby team embryologists verify identities and maintain a one-patient-per-hood rule. This robust chain of custody procedure, which remains the gold-standard in the industry, has made it possible for us to increase our size without compromising the quality of patient care.
5. Enhanced Research Potential
Along with offering more elbow room, our expanded laboratory also provides more think-space.
At SGF, we cultivate a culture of continuous innovation. We are dedicated to advancing knowledge within the area of reproductive technologies. We’re not waiting for others to figure out new techniques; we’re actively researching ourselves.
Within our new lab, we have the space, the time and the people power necessary to truly investigate new IVF techniques. We are determined to improve embryo cultures, even if our efforts result in one more pregnancy out of 1,000. We know that one more pregnancy means one more happy family we can send home from Shady Grove Fertility.
Cutting-edge Solutions for Your Family
Assisted reproductive technology continues to develop daily. Each year, we see new advancements in techniques, new tools to enhance success, and new procedures and protocol that become available. By continuing to develop not just our services, but also our space, we can deliver on our promise to provide you the best possible support.
In addition to our new physical space and state-of-the-art equipment at our Rockville laboratory, we have 25+ experienced and dedicated embryologists who have honed their skills through extensive practice.
These professionals are eager to help current SGF patients become former patients and current parents. Our new lab is just one more tool that helps us realize this goal.
To learn more about how our IVF lab is increasing your chance of pregnancy or to schedule an appointment, please contact one of our New Patient Liaisons at 1-877-971-7755 or click here to complete this brief form.