Traditional Embryo Morphology Evaluation: From the Zygote to the Blastocyst Stage

  • Jonathan KortEmail author
  • Barry Behr


After in vitro fertilization, providers are repeatedly tasked with assessing embryos at various stages to make critical, time-sensitive patient care decisions at each stage of embryo culture using morphological assessments. At the zygote stage, assessment of normal fertilization must occur just before the brief window in which pronuclei are visible closes in order to determine which embryos are suitable to continue in culture. Cleavage-stage assessments must determine whether a patient should transfer early or pursue blastocyst culture before transfer or cryopreservation. Finally, blastocyst morphology assessments must be made to determine if and when embryos are optimally ready for trophectoderm biopsy for cases undergoing genetic screening, if and when embryos are optimally ready for cryopreservation, and, most importantly, which embryos are most likely to become a healthy pregnancy when selecting an embryo for transfer. While molecular and biochemical methods to assess human gamete and embryo reproductive potential are increasingly utilized, the assessment of morphology has been, and will remain, the most widely employed method for embryo selection as it is quick and inexpensive and, although not without faults, has consistently been shown to have predictive value.


Morphology Embryo selection Embryo assessment Single embryo transfer 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Reproductive Endocrinology and InfertilityStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Stanford University, Reproductive Endocrinology and InfertilitySunnyvaleUSA

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