A condition of successful infertility treatment is not only medical treatment that represents the cutting edge of scientific knowledge, but also a compassionate team. Pregnancy rates are comparable in most centers. The Fertility Center Cologne is a medium-sized center and in contrast to many “larger” centers, can practice individuality and discretion. Diagnosis and treatment are structured based on the personal situation with clear assessments of what is possible and useful or not. The team doctors and biologists can rely on more than 15 years of experience in the field of reproductive medicine. The quality of the work of the biologists plays a big part in pregnancy success. Good pregnancy rates are also achieved as a result of using the best technical equipment. That is why the Fertility Center Cologne has been using BINDER CB series incubators since October 2006 and the new BINDER CB 53 since March 2009.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a method used when the woman is the primary cause of the infertility (e.g. sealed tubes, hormonal dysregulation, endometriosis, PCO). A condition for the application of this laboratory method is the presence of normal sperm counts in the man. If the quality of the man’s sperm is inadequate, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be used. After extraction and processing of the woman’s eggs and her partner’s sperm, the cells are placed together in a specially developed culture medium for about 20 hours (IVF) or the sperm are injected into the eggs using the ICSI method and incubated until the next day. This happens under optimal conditions in a BINDER incubator. The unit simulates the special environmental conditions of the body exactly: 37.0°C and 5% – 7% CO2 maintain the physiological pH value of the culture medium used and offer the best conditions for optimal oocyte and embryo development. From a technical perspective, all possible sources of failure that could negatively affect the embryos are eliminated. During this time, fertilization occurs, as well as development and division of the embryos to the 4- or 8-cell stage over the course of further cultivation in the incubator up to day two or three. Just after being harvested from the ovaries, after fertilisation and during their development into early embryos, the eggs are incubated in a BINDER CB 53. The embryos are then returned to the uterus (embryo transfer).
The CO2 incubators are the most important equipment for the work performed in the IVF lab because the eggs harvested from the ovaries of the patient for fertilization spend the greatest amount of time outside of the body in the incubator. In addition to the incubators from BINDER, a variety of additional technical equipment is required: microscopes for finding and handling the eggs and embryos (stereomicroscope), a high-quality inverted light microscope with microinjection unit for performing the ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), assisted hatching (laser-assisted hatching of embryos) and other special procedures such as polar body biopsy to examine the chromosomal condition of eggs. All microscopes are equipped with heating tables to prevent the cells from “undercooling”.
Ultimately, the incubator is the most important space in which the eggs grow and that is why the Fertility Center Cologne has also relied on the proven technology of the BINDER CB 53. “Besides the fact that I have long worked with and have had the many positive experiences with the BINDER units, the robust design, simple, intuitive handling and high reliability speak to the quality of these units. In the IVF field, the failure of an incubator can have devastating consequences for the cell material and above all, for the patient concerned and last but not least, for the treating physician. Therefore, the operational reliability and stability of such incubators is the most important quality criterion,” said Dr Ralf Böhm, biologist and director of the IVF lab at the Center. The BINDER incubators distinguish themselves by their very fast recovery times for temperature and gases. This is very important in being able to restore optimal incubator conditions as quickly as possible for the cell material after a door is opened. The very fast infrared CO2 measuring system of the CB 53 makes this possible. The continuous recording of internal parameter data including temperature, CO2, O2 if necessary and door openings is also an important criterion for the reliability of the units. If the alarm sounds due to an interruption in the CO2 supply, for example, the recordings on the screen controller make it possible to accurately pinpoint when the interruption occurred, whether the parameter has changed internally, and if necessary, what impact the interruption has on the germ material. Compared to other manufacturers, a door handle is used to open and close the BINDER incubator. This ensures that the user can automatically ascertain when closing the cabinet that it actually closed. With other incubator types, the doors usually only have magnetic closures or similar, which can cause the doors to not close correctly when too little pressure is applied, which again entails an alarm after some time resulting in changes to the internal parameters.
“A real highlight is the sterilization option at 180°C,” explained Dr Ralf Böhm. “The process is completed in just few hours and is very easy to perform while the certainty of having a germ-free incubator after completing the sterilisation process is 100% and therefore, very reassuring.” The inner chamber has no edges and corners, which also facilitates wiping out the incubator tremendously and optimizes the cleaning results. The door lock prevents unauthorised access to the cell material, which plays a particularly important role for human germ cells.
“The BINDER cabinets provide optimal culture conditions for the germ cells in conjunction with high operational reliability and stability of internal parameters. Together with a fast and reliable alarm system, the BINDER cabinets make a cell culture with optimal development results and maximum safety possible. Thanks to the divided door and rapid recovery times, cultures are possible under stabile conditions,” said Dr Ralf Böhm, praising the BINDER CB 53 incubators.