When to consider ICSI?

ICSI is a specially useful embryological technique for treatment of male infertility and repeated IVF failure. ICSI is now very much a standard procedure being sued in well over half of all treatment cycles in India.

What is ICSI?

ICSI is now a well-established microinjection technique which has helped thousands of infertile men to overcome issues with sperm parameters. It is also useful in cases of fertilisation failures with repeated IVF cycles. The technique evolved in 1990’s in Belgium and since then has become established as one of the biggest discoveries in the management of infertility. Presently more than 50% IVF cycles in India and up to 63% IVF cycles in USA are ICSI cycles.

How is ICSI different IVF?

ICSI is mainly an embryological process. The process of ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval and embryo transfer remains the same as in IVF (described above). The male partner provides a semen sample on the same day by masturbation. Alternatively, sperms retrieved surgically from testis (in case of obstructive / un-obstructive azoospermia) or sperm that has been previously cryopreserved can also be used. So, technically the number of sperms required is only as many as the number of eggs that can be fertilised.

The eggs are also processed differently for ICSI, as they are first cleaned in order to clean them and remove the debris and outer cumulus cells. The eggs are screened for maturity under a microscope and the mature ones are selected for micro-manipulation or ICSI. One carefully selected sperm is injected into each selected egg using a micro-manipulator under high magnification microscope. Later the fertilised eggs are placed in the incubator and allowed to grow.

Who benefits from ICSI? Who are potential candidates for ICSI?
  • ICSI benefits all mainly men with low sperm count , poor motility or morphology
  • In cases with surgically retrieved sperms like MESA, TESA, TESE, where this is the only tool to fertilise the egg.
  • In pts with recurrent fertilisation failure with IVF.
  • In patients undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
What are various risks associated with ICSI?

ICSI revolutionised the treatment of male factor infertility enabling even males with nil sperm count to father their own genetic child. It is a fairly safe procedure. But, some studies have indicated a marginal increase in risk of congenital malformations in the offspring (six per thousand births compared to two per thousand births in general population). But it still remains to be proven if the real cause of the higher incidence of congenital malformations in such children is ICSI or just a transmission of genetic abnormalities from the male with severe sperm abnormalities.

Contact Dr Parul Katiyar for more information about ICSI and treatment of infertility.