Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, or ICSI for short, is a procedure that has revolutionized the treatment of male infertility as it allows couples to achieve fertilization even when only a few sperm are available. Intracytoplasmic sperm Injection, a specialized form of microinsemination, was first developed by reproductive medical specialists in Belgium to help couples to overcome male infertility problems such as low sperm counts, poor motility or movement of the sperm, poor sperm quality or sperm that lack the ability to penetrate an egg.
Procedure: During routine IVF, eggs and sperm are combined and incubated together in order to achieve fertilization. ICSI is performed by an embryologist, who mechanically inserts a single sperm into each egg. This is done by perforating the membrane of the egg with a glass pipette, which contains the sperm and it requires highly developed skills.
Because only one sperm is needed per egg, fertilization is made possible through ICSI even when only a few sperm are available. This becomes especially important in males with azoospermia (the complete lack of sperm present in the ejaculate). In such cases, we can offer a procedure called testicular sperm extraction (TESE), where our urologist extracts a small piece of testicular tissue that may contain sperm cells that can be used for ICSI. In a very high percentage of cases, azoospermic males can achieve fatherhood. Another surgical procedure may also be performed called Percutaneous Epididymal Surgical Aspiration (PESA). Once the egg is injected with a single sperm, it is observed approximately 18 hours later to see if fertilization has taken place.