An internal quality control (IQC) is constituted by a sample, in which a substance or a particular element has been detected and quantified by a competent authority. Such an IQC is randomly placed in a series of analyses and submitted to the same analytical procedure than the unknown samples. If the value measured for the IQC falls within the limits set by the manufacturer, than the whole series of analyses is technically validated and can be processed through medical validation.
In Andrology or IVF laboratories, there are no available IQC for the following reasons:
- The samples are living cells or gametes, which are either precious, sensitive to the ambient conditions. For ethical reasons, the use of human material for IQC is questionable or unrealistic.
- The organization of an IVF laboratory is rather complex and relies on a long series of usually unrelated events, which have to be coordinated and kept under control. Due to the multifaceted nature of these events, the use of rigorous protocols and markers allow to monitor the various components of the system. Several approaches tend to test the proper working conditions of the IVF laboratory as a whole: for instance, the mouse embryo assay (MEA), the sperm survival test (SST), and the mean fertilization or pregnancy rates.
- A great amount of the routine IVF activity relies on the proper observation of morphological, cytological and cellular characteristics. Based on these observations important decisions have to be taken by the embryologist, which will in turn affect the clinical choice.