Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-7479d7b7d-jwnkl Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-15T00:12:51.468Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Chapter 2 - Incubators for Embryo Culture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 April 2021

Kersti Lundin
Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg
Aisling Ahlström
Livio Fertility Center, Gothenburg
Get access


Incubators represent the most important piece of equipment in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) laboratory since embryos spend the largest part of their in vitro development within an incubator’s atmosphere. Incubators, together with embryo culture media, are intended to directly and indirectly provide stable physicochemical conditions that best mimic the natural environment in the female reproductive tract. The stability of these conditions significantly influences the success of the IVF program. Modern incubators can be very sophisticated devices that can be upgraded with integrated micro cameras and linked to computer programs. Although the incubator’s technical details may sometimes be difficult to understand, it is important for clinical embryologists to know how to control incubator operation and properly maintain stable physical and hygienic conditions.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Edwards, RG. Test-tube babies, 1981Nature1981;293:253256.Google Scholar
Working group of ESHRE. Recommendations for good practice for the use of time-lapse technology. Human Reprod Open. 2020;(2)hoaa008.Google Scholar
Cohen, J, Cairo 2018 Consensus Group. ‘There is only one thing that is truly important in an IVF laboratory: everything’ Cairo Consensus Guidelines on IVF Culture Conditions. Reprod Biomed Online. 2020;40:3360.Google Scholar
Swain, JE. Decisions for the IVF laboratory: comparative analysis of embryo culture incubators. Reprod Biomed Online. 2014;28:535547.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fujiwara, M, Takahashi, K, Izuno, M, et al. Effect of micro-environment maintenance on embryo culture after in-vitro fertilization: comparison of top-load mini incubator and conventional front-load incubator. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2007;24:59.Google Scholar
Gelo, N, Kirinec, G, Baldani, DP, et al. Influence of human embryo cultivation in a classic CO2 incubator with 20% oxygen versus benchtop incubator with 5% oxygen on live births: the randomized prospective trial. Zygote. 2019;27:131136.Google Scholar
Lee, M, Grazi, R, Seifer, D. Incorporation of the Cook K-Minc incubator and media system into the IVF lab: the future of IVF. J Clin Embryol. 2010;13:2132.Google Scholar
Cruz, M, Gadea, B, Garrido, N, et al. Embryo quality, blastocyst and ongoing pregnancy rates in oocyte donation patients whose embryos were monitored by time-lapse imaging. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2011;28:569573.Google Scholar
Kirkegaard, K, Hindkjaer, JJ, Grondahl, ML, Kesmodel, US, Ingerslev, HJ. A randomized clinical trial comparing embryo culture in a conventional incubator with a time-lapse incubator. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2012;29:565572.Google Scholar
Hyslop, L, Prathalingam, N, Nowak, L, et al. A novel isolator-based system promotes viability of human embryos during laboratory processing. PLoS One 2012; 7:e31010.Google Scholar
Mortimer, D, Cohen, J, Mortimer, ST, et al. Cairo consensus on the IVF laboratory environment and air quality: report of an expert meeting. Reprod Biomed Online. 2018;36:658674.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chou, J. Electrochemical sensors. In: Hazardous Gas Monitors: A Practical Guide to Selection, Operation and Applications. New York: McGraw Hill; 1999;2735.Google Scholar
Swain, JE. Media composition: pH and buffers. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;912:161175.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fischer, B, Bavister, BD. Oxygen tension in the oviduct and uterus of rhesus monkeys, hamsters and rabbits. J Reprod Fertil. 1993;99:673679.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ottosen, LD, Hindkaer, J, Husth, M, Petersen, DE, Kirk, J, Ingerslev, HJ. Observations on intrauterine oxygen tension measured by fibre-optic microsensors. Reprod Biomed Online. 2006;13:380385.Google Scholar
Edwards, RG, Steptoe, PC, Purdy, JM. Establishing full-term human pregnancies using cleaving embryos grown in vitro. Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1980;87:737756.Google Scholar
Lopata, A, Johnston, IWH, Hoult, IJ, Speirs, AL. Pregnancy following in-trauterine implantation of an embryo obtained by in vitro fertilization ofa preovulatory egg. Fertil Steril. 1980;33:117120.Google Scholar
Testart, J, Lassalle, B, Frydman, R. Apparatus for the in vitro fertilization and culture of human oocytes. Fertil Steril. 1982;38:372375.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kovačič, B. Culture systems: low-oxygen culture. Methods Mol Biol. 2012;912:249272.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bontekoe, S, Mantikou, E, van Wely, M, Seshadri, S, Repping, S, Mastenbroek, S. Low oxygen concentrations for embryo culture in assisted reproductive technologies. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;11:CD008950.Google Scholar
ESHRE Guideline Group on Good Practice in IVF Labs, De los Santos, MJ, Apter, S, et al. Revised guidelines for good practice in IVF laboratories (2015). Hum Reprod. 2016;31:685686.Google Scholar
Brinster, RL. In vitro cultivation of mammalian ova. Adv Biosci. 1969;4:199233.Google Scholar
Yedwab, GA, Paz, G, Homonnai, TZ, David, MP, Kraicer, PF. The temperature, pH and partial pressure of oxygen in the cervix and uterus of women and uterus of rats during the cycle. Fertil Steril. 1976;27:304309.Google Scholar
Walker, MW, Butler, JM, Higdon, HL, Boone, WR. Temperature variations within and between incubators – a prospective, observational study. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2013;30:15831585.Google Scholar
Swain, JE. Controversies in ART: considerations and risks for uninterrupted embryo culture. Reprod Biomed Online. 2019;39:1926.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Khoudja, RY, Xu, Y, Li, T, Zhou, C. Better IVF outcomes following improvements in laboratory air quality. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2013; 30:6976.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats