Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we are proud of our dedication to research and innovation - that is why we invest so much time and resource into discovering the very best in latest technology.  We do this so that you, our patients, can have the best possible chance of turning your dreams of creating a family into a reality. This is how we do it:

State-of-the-Art Assisted Conception Laboratories

The laboratories at The Hewitt Fertility Centre were specifically designed and built around their function and need; making good use of the extensive expertise within the Embryology Team. We create a safe environment for the handling of eggs, sperm and embryos by using high quality equipment at the cutting edge of technology.

Embryos are routinely cultured for up to 6 days, with embryo transfers taking place on either day 3 or day 5 of their development, 7 days a week. Every single piece of our critical equipment is remotely and independently monitored 24 hours a day; with a member of the embryology team permanently ‘on call’, night and day – ready to respond, should the need arise.

The lab has been designed to provide a relaxed environment, allowing our embryology team plenty of room to work and move around safely when carrying gametes and embryos.  As well as this, we have ultraviolet filters specially fitted to all lights; removing 99% of UV light, which may damage eggs and embryos.

The Hewitt Fertility Centre has invested significantly in several new technologies, aimed at optimising the patient’s chance of achieving pregnancy.

Electronic Witnessing (IVFWitness™ System)

Within an assisted conception laboratory, there is, quite clearly, nothing more important than ensuring that we match the right embryos with the right patient.  Consequently, and in accordance with the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), we witness every single stage of the matching process.

The way in which this is achieved, is by asking a second member of staff to observe and witness each and every procedure taking place. We have also taken the required witnessing a step further; we have introduced the very latest technology to aid this crucial aspect of work, called ‘IVFWitness’. ‘IVFWitness’ is a system, which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, where patients are given an ID card at the start of their treatment, not only with their details printed onto it, but also embedded electronically.

Similarly, every dish or tube used within the laboratory during treatment is labelled with a RFID tag – this ensures that the system only permits dishes and tubes belonging to that particular patient into the work area.  Should the ‘wrong’ dish or tube become introduced, an alarm will sound – thus eliminating mistakes; making our labs as safe and efficient as possible.

Undisturbed Culture using EmbryoScope®

EmbryoScope® offers continuous surveillance of embryos in a safe, undisturbed and controlled environment, from which they do not have to be removed for examination.  The system takes a photograph every 10 minutes of each embryo, providing up to 140 images per day. This creates continuous time-lapse ‘moving’ images which are then stored automatically within the patient file for review at any time during the embryo’s development. 

Emerging research is suggesting that the vast amount of information collected by the EmbryoScope® is extremely useful in helping to identify those embryos with the highest implantation potential. We offer EmbryoScope® technology as a routine part of our procedures to all our patients (both NHS and private) with no extra cost.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT-A) for aneuploidy

PGT-A (also known as aneuploidy screening) is an additional treatment option (also known as an 'add on'). PGT-A involves checking the chromosomes of embryos conceived by in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for common abnormalities. This treatment avoids having embryos with an abnormal number of chromosomes being transferred to the womb during fertility treatment. Chromosomal abnormalities are a major cause of the failure of embryos to implant, leading to potential miscarriages and conditions such as Down’s syndrome.

We sometimes recommend PGT-A to the following groups of patients:

  • Patients over 35 who have a higher risk of having a baby with a chromosome problem 
  • Patients who have a family history of chromosome problems
  • Patients who have a history of recurrent miscarriages 
  • Patients have had several unsuccessful cycles of IVF, where embryos have been transferred 
  • Couples, where the partner’s sperm is known to be at high risk of having chromosome problems

The PGT-A process involves the embryologist removing cells from the developing embryo for analysis. Following this, the biopsied cells are frozen and transferred to the genetics laboratory (currently in London) where the geneticists use a technique called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to test the cells for normality in all 23 pairs of chromosomes.  

In the majority of cases it is possible to identify those embryos which are genetically normal and to select such an embryo(s) for transfer.  Although this technique is relatively young, there is some evidence to suggest that PGT-A of embryos for aneuploidy may increase the chance of pregnancy in the patient groups listed above.

It is important to note that PGT-A incurs an additional cost.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing for monogenic disease (PGT-M)

PGT-M uses the same biopsy technique as described above, however the embryo cells are screened for a specific known genetic disorder. This practice avoids having abnormal embryos transferred to the womb for those patients that already have a known family member with a condition or suffer themselves, with a known genetic defect.

Each case of PGT-M requires permission from the HFEA to allow screening for the known genetic defect, and the parents (and possibly wider family) will need to be tested by the genetics laboratory before the embryos are created, to confirm that they are able to screen for that particular defect.

CryoRobot Select (CRS)

CRS developed by TMRW Life Sciences, is a groundbreaking advancement in IVF cryostorage. TMRW developed the first automated platform designed for the safe management and storage of frozen eggs and embryos. This innovative technology has recently become accessible for cryostorage following fertility treatment, and the Hewitt Fertility Centre is the first clinic outside of the USA to make it available to patients. The CRS uses digital technology to effectively monitor, track, and retrieve frozen eggs and embryos, and so significantly reduces the number of potential points of failure caused by unnecessary handling of patient samples when using routine manual cryostorage systems. The use of the CRS incurs an additional cost.

Physiological Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI)

PICSI is an advanced form of ICSI which includes an additional method of sperm selection. The sperm are selected for treatment by assessing their ability to bind to hyaluronan within the laboratory. Several studies have shown PICSI may reduce the risk of miscarriage in certain groups of patients compared to ICSI. It is important to note that this treatment incurs an additional cost and is considered to be a HFEA 'add on' treatment.