Testicular biopsy

What is testicular biopsy?

Testicular biopsy is a surgical procedure to obtain sperm. The procedure involves making a 2-3 cm incision in the skin of the testicle to obtain testicular tissue and, through it, spermatozoa. The material obtained is then divided, one part is reserved for Assisted Reproduction techniques and the other for study. Sometimes different samples are taken depending on the patient’s personal situation. This test is often performed without any type of anesthesia, although the specialist may opt for local anesthesia, depending on the patient’s tolerance.

Objectives of testicular biopsy

When testicular tissue is obtained, the biopsy has two main objectives:

1. to investigate the testicular tissue and its capacity to produce spermatozoa; 2. to investigate the testicular tissue and its capacity to produce spermatozoa. On the other hand, to know at what point in spermatogenesis production stops.

2. Obtaining live spermatozoa and injecting them into the partner’s egg. This procedure is performed in situations in which there is an obstruction of the seminal duct, which can be the result of various causes, congenital and acquired. Among the congenital causes, the absence of vas deferens stands out, a pathology that is quite frequently associated with cystic fibrosis. Other causes can be of infectious, traumatic or surgical origin (for example, after a vasectomy); however, on other occasions the origin of this obstruction cannot be detected.

One of the objectives of testicular biopsy is to obtain healthy spermatozoa and inject them into the couple’s egg.

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Why is it performed?

Testicular biopsy is performed in order to find the origin of male infertility in cases in which a semen analysis shows that there are abnormal spermatozoa and other tests have not found the origin of the problem. In other words, this test is intended for cases of azoospermia, oligospermia and notable alterations in semen quality in which there may be a high risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm.

Preparation for testicular biopsy

As it is a simple technique it can be performed under local anesthesia and no hospital admission is required, however it is an unpleasant test compared to other tests such as a semen analysis or a blood test.

Meaning of the results

A detailed interview and a correct physical and analytical examination can provide clues as to the pathology suffered by the patient, but only a testicular biopsy and microscopic study of the tissue obtained will allow a correct diagnosis to be made. Nevertheless, the usefulness of testicular biopsy is not only diagnostic. The spermatozoa isolated from the biopsied tissue can be used to fertilize the oocyte in the in vitro fertilization laboratory.