Testicular Biopsy

Definition - What does Testicular Biopsy mean?

A testicular biopsy is a male fertility test where a sample of tissue is taken from the testes and examined under a microscope to look for a cause for abnormal sperm quality and/or counts. It is done when no hormonal cause can be found for sperm abnormalities. A testicular biopsy can assess the development and maturation of sperm cells in the testes. A biopsy can be performed either through a small surgical incision or using a specialized needle and syringe. This procedure can also be used to obtain sperm for use in an in vitro fertilization procedure.

FertilitySmarts explains Testicular Biopsy

The first step of evaluation of male infertility is the analysis of semen. If it detects absent or a low number of sperm or sperm cells that are abnormal, further testing is needed to identify the underlying cause of the abnormality. Blood testing for sex hormone levels is done next, and if the hormone levels are normal, a testicular biopsy is performed to assess the status of production and maturation of sperm in the testes.

There are two techniques for performing a testicular biopsy.

  • Needle biopsy - A sample of testicular tissue is obtained through a specialized needle and syringe, usually performed under local anesthesia.
  • Open biopsy - A small cut is made in the skin of the scrotum and a piece of the testis is taken out using a blade. This can be performed under local or general anesthesia.

The procedure is generally painless and risk-free, but rarely patients who undergo biopsy can develop prolonged bleeding from the site of biopsy, the formation of a blood clot (hematoma) or infection.

For patients who have normal sperm cell production but the sperm quality or quantity in semen is not satisfactory due to a defect in the passage of sperm through the genital tract, a testicular biopsy can be used to obtain sperm for assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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