There is only one thing that is truly important in an IVF laboratory: everything.
The report presents the outcomes from an international expert meeting to establish consensus guidelines on IVF culture, reviewing topics such as embryo culture; temperature; humidity; gas control; pH; workstations; incubators; micromanipulation; handling and assessment. In summary it says, "Clinical IVF has had a relatively unrestricted development over the past 40 years, with the result that there is now a plethora of permutations of laboratory culture systems. Some laboratories have retained aspects from the mid-1980s, while others are more likely to embrace change and adopt novel aspects of IVF culture as they are introduced."
Against this background, it is a challenge to identify and define what might constitute ‘best practice’ in the IVF laboratory. However, there are key physcochemical factors that affect oocytes and embryos in every IVF laboratory: temperature control, maintaining osmolarity and pH, and protection from oxidative stress and toxic substances, such as volatile organic compounds. The purpose of the consensus workshop, held at the UEARS 2018 conference (17–18 February 2018, Cairo, Egypt) was to define the technical and procedural requirements for an IVF laboratory’s culture system while taking these factors into account. The overarching goal of the workshop was to identify how best to operate to achieve best practice and to optimise the developmental competency of all gametes received and embryos obtained.
The report develops an expert consensus opinion on the various options currently available for equipment and procedures and the criteria by which users can determine fitness for purpose within their own laboratories, and to identify areas for priority research to fill knowledge gaps. It was not the goal to define exactly what should – or should not – be done in the IVF laboratory, as these decisions must be taken in connection with local regulatory and licensing requirements.