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In Biomedical engineering online ; h5-index 0.0

BACKGROUND : Infertility and subfertility affect a significant proportion of humanity. Assisted reproductive technology has been proven capable of alleviating infertility issues. In vitro fertilisation is one such option whose success is highly dependent on the selection of a high-quality embryo for transfer. This is typically done manually by analysing embryos under a microscope. However, evidence has shown that the success rate of manual selection remains low. The use of new incubators with integrated time-lapse imaging system is providing new possibilities for embryo assessment. As such, we address this problem by proposing an approach based on deep learning for automated embryo quality evaluation through the analysis of time-lapse images. Automatic embryo detection is complicated by the topological changes of a tracked object. Moreover, the algorithm should process a large number of image files of different qualities in a reasonable amount of time.

METHODS : We propose an automated approach to detect human embryo development stages during incubation and to highlight embryos with abnormal behaviour by focusing on five different stages. This method encompasses two major steps. First, the location of an embryo in the image is detected by employing a Haar feature-based cascade classifier and leveraging the radiating lines. Then, a multi-class prediction model is developed to identify a total cell number in the embryo using the technique of deep learning.

RESULTS : The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method achieves an accuracy of at least 90% in the detection of embryo location. The implemented deep learning approach to identify the early stages of embryo development resulted in an overall accuracy of over 92% using the selected architectures of convolutional neural networks. The most problematic stage was the 3-cell stage, presumably due to its short duration during development.

CONCLUSION : This research contributes to the field by proposing a model to automate the monitoring of early-stage human embryo development. Unlike in other imaging fields, only a few published attempts have involved leveraging deep learning in this field. Therefore, the approach presented in this study could be used in the creation of novel algorithms integrated into the assisted reproductive technology used by embryologists.

Raudonis Vidas, Paulauskaite-Taraseviciene Agne, Sutiene Kristina, Jonaitis Domas


Deep learning, Embryo development, Image recognition, Location detection, Multi-class prediction