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Zev Rosenwaks and Nigel Pereira

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) has often been heralded as a ground-breaking technique that has transformed the treatment of couples with infertility. By injecting a single spermatozoon into the cytoplasm of the oocyte, ICSI bypasses the zona pellucida and increases the chances of fertilization and subsequent embryo development, independent of semen parameters. Ever since the first live births using ICSI were reported in 1992, ICSI has become the mainstay of treating male factor infertility as well as overcoming fertilization failure associated with conventional in vitro insemination. Today, ICSI is utilized in nearly 66% of all assisted reproductive treatments worldwide and has resulted in the birth of millions of babies. The primary goal of this review is to provide historical perspectives about the pioneering of ICSI. We begin by highlighting the scientific work of early investigators who elucidated the mechanisms central to mammalian fertilization. Furthermore, we briefly discuss how these findings contributed to the development of IVF for the treatment of infertility. We then emphasize the shortcomings of IVF in treating severe forms of male factor infertility and enumerate the micromanipulation techniques that were developed to circumvent these shortcomings. Finally, we indicate how the inadequacies of these micromanipulation techniques lead to the inception, application and popularity of ICSI.

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Nigel Pereira, Claire O’Neill, Vivian Lu, Zev Rosenwaks, and Gianpiero D Palermo

The pioneering of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) approximately 25 years ago revolutionized the treatment of infertile couples. Today, ICSI remains an indispensable part of assisted reproductive treatments (ART) and has resulted in the birth of millions of babies. The 25th anniversary of ICSI marks a chronologic landmark in its evolving history. This landmark also serves as an opportunity to thoroughly appraise the safety of ICSI and analyze the long-term outcomes of ICSI-conceived children. In this review, we collate and analyze salient data accrued over the past 25 years pertaining to the long-term safety of ICSI and ICSI conceptions. We also evaluate the effects of ICSI on the perinatal outcomes, congenital malformation rates, cognitive development and reproductive health of ICSI-conceived neonates, children, adolescents and adults, respectively. In doing so, we also highlight the existence of potential confounders and biases that frequently obscure the interpretation of clinical follow-up studies.