Transparent AI: Paving the way to better IVF outcomes - MedCity News

Transparent AI: Paving the way to better IVF outcomes – MedCity News

Creating a family is one of life’s most natural progressions, essentially preserving our collective future since the dawn of time. Family structures are shaped in unique configurations, but the desire to care for, nurture, and love one’s child is universal. The extraordinary elements that must perfectly collide to create life are nothing short of miraculous, yet pregnancy is so often taken for granted, underestimated as mundane. That is, until one is faced with the understanding that the “common” flow of life does not apply to them.

Whether the inhibiting factor is infertility, biology, or a matter of circumstance, the despair of a lost dream is excruciating. Understanding the delicate factors involved, IVF practitioners aspire to be a source of encouragement to expectant parents in the face of this overwhelming challenge.

The current status of IVF results

Since the birth of the first IVF baby in 1978, the field of embryology and in vitro fertilization (IVF) has made the impossible possible for expectant parents who were suffering from infertility. However, possible does not mean simple, and IVF success statistics have not changed much in recent decades. In fact, only 30-40% of women will achieve a live birth in the first round of IVF. Such a cycle can cost between $12,000 and $25,000, making it a risky business with no guarantee of a positive outcome.

One of the main drivers of this statistical stagnation is the lack of standardization of practices in the field. Patients receive varied treatments leading to strong differentiation of outcomes. Although embryologists are extremely well trained and highly qualified, success rates for embryo selection are, at best, inconsistent. Without a consistent system for collecting and interpreting end-to-end data on this process, IVF is ripe for disruption.

The practice of embryology determines the successful formation of life

IVF depends on the field of embryology. Embryologists trained in the study of the formation, growth and development of an embryo, and responsible for evaluating which embryo to choose for transfer in hopes of achieving a live birth.

Typically, embryologists place a fertilized egg in an incubator and manually check the progress under a microscope over a period of five to six days. The discretion rests with the embryologist on how many times a day they assess and take developmental notes, usually looking at day one, day two or three, and day five to assess whether the embryo is viable.

The process of carefully removing a developing embryo from an incubator to observe it under a microscope and record the data is time-consuming. The highly technical task of safely maintaining the beginnings of life outside the body leaves little room for error. Embryologists assess a developing embryo using approximately five data points available for human analysis. Even with their extensive training, education, and clinical experience, so few developmental stages in embryo development leave much room for variation in decision-making.

IVF professionals rely on their training, basic assessment parameters and their own experience to make decisions. To put it into perspective, imagine getting blood test results without established parameters that indicate a range of normal limits. Diagnosis and any treatment would be based on observer discretion and not on evidence-based standards. This analogy explains the frustrating status in which IVF has worked so far.

Empower embryologists with AI-based decision support

When evaluated under a microscope, an embryologist can examine several morphological characteristics of an embryo once a day to determine its viability. However, with the introduction of time-lapse surveillance systems in the IVF lab, there is an opportunity to take advantage of new computer vision and AI technology that can capture images at almost any stage of a patient’s development. an embryo and assess additional developmental details that cannot be obtained by the human eye. An AI system trained by “experienced eyes” captures and processes a large database of embryos developing in accelerated incubators, analyzing this data combined with processing results. Based on this, AI provides insights to help embryologists make consistent, data-driven decisions. This in turn should result in more consistent decision-making among embryologists and lead to better pregnancy and live birth outcomes.

AI bridges the human error gap and maximizes potential IVF success rates. AI’s ability to analyze big data paves the way for improving IVF outcomes and developing evidence-based metrics that set a consistent standard of care.

Financial Implications of Accurate Embryo Selection

The ability to improve consistency in the selection of viable embryos also affects financial investment and minimizes patient risk with fewer cycles to live birth. An IVF cycle is the process of retrieving ovarian eggs, fertilizing, observing and selecting a viable embryo for transfer, and finally transferring the embryo in hopes of implantation. Two weeks later, the patient will receive the first pregnancy test result. This three-week process is an emotional journey, an expensive journey, and a journey with frustrating chances of success.

Additionally, IVF is not without risk to the health of patients due to the egg retrieval procedure and multiple embryo transfer to increase the chances of a viable pregnancy and cost mitigation. With AI-assisted consistency in embryo selection, you can reduce cycles and unnecessary risk. The decision support tool that IVF clinicians have in AI analyzed data that supports transparent, explainable, and evidence-based information that invites expectant parents to the decision-making table.

A bright and hopeful future awaits the 90 million couples worldwide struggling with infertility. AI that provides explainable and transparent data that IVF clinicians can understand and trust is poised to advance IVF success rates that have stagnated for far too long. Infusing transparency through this process will turn the daunting unknown into a hopeful process. Children are our most precious asset and our most precious gift. Thanks to AI assistive technology, the natural flow of life can be accessible to everyone.

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