Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (or insertion or microinjection), also known as ICSI, is an innovative procedure used to literally inject the male gamete (sperm) into the female gamete (egg) in an effort to achieve conception.
ICSI is truly one of the marvels of assisted reproductive technology. Rather than simply placing the two sex cells in a petri dish filled with medium to encourage fertilization, ICSI more closely assures the process by doing some of the sperm's work for it. Specifically, by using this micromanipulation technique, doctors are able to bypass problems that the sperm may have with penetration of the zona pellucida, the egg's outer shell.
Accordingly, one must be undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to make use of the ICSI technique, and you'll often see it referred to as IVF/ICSI.
In brief, the procedure involves the following steps:
Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago and the Assisted Conception Unit of University College Hospital in London use photographic images to describe the ICSI process. Oxford University's Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology offers video clips of ICSI procedures.
© Tracy Morris