In order to reproduce, both male and female reproductive organs have to function properly. A couple is rendered infertile when they are unable to procreate naturally. This may happen due to various reasons, issues in either of the partner leads to infertility in couples. Male infertility is often caused due to functional or structural issues with testicles.
Biopsy refers to a medical test which is commonly performed by a surgeon. In biopsy, sample cells are extracted for examination to determine the presence and extent of a disease. The tissue is observed under a microscope by a pathologist.
Testicular biopsy also referred as testis biopsy is a test for infertility in which small sample of tissue is removed from both or either of testicles. It is examined under a microscope by a male infertility specialist. It is considered as an acknowledged method for examination of testicles for diagnostic and other purposes.
Role of Testicular Biopsy in Male Infertility
Testicular biopsy is an important technique in diagnosing male infertility, but it is not the first step for the diagnosis. Initially, health history, blood tests and semen analysis is performed by the doctor. Through blood tests and semen analysis, low sperm count, poor sperm quality and absence of sperm is determined. Testicular biopsy for male infertility is used to evaluate whether a man’s fertile to become a father. It may be used to:
Determine the cause of male infertility
Detect the location and condition of lump in testes
Diagnose testicular cancer
Extract sperm for In Vitro Fertilisation only if, sperm is present in testes.
Male Reproductive System
In order to understand testicular biopsy and its procedure, one must he familiar with the male reproductive system. The male reproductive system consists of the following organs
- Ejaculatory Duct
- Vas deferens
Male reproductive system is made up of internal and external organs which work together for procreation and do the following tasks:
- Production, maintenance and transportation of sperm cells and semen.
- Production and secretion of male fertility hormones
Procedure of Testicular Biopsy
Two different procedures are used for testicular biopsy either open or percutaneous. The type of biopsy varies with the reason for the test.
In Open Biopsy, a small surgical cut is made through the skin and testicle and testicle tissue is removed. Later on, the opening and cut is closed with stitches. This procedure may also be repeated for the other testicle if required. It is also known as surgical biopsy.
In Percutaneous Biopsy, no cut is made through the skin because a special thin biopsy needle is inserted through the skin that extracts testicle tissue. The needles has syringe at the end which collects the tissue. It is a fine needle biopsy which requires no incision or stitches.
Risks associated with Testicular Biopsy
Where at one hand testicular biopsy can aid in resolving male infertility issues on the other hand, it has some risks associated with it. Although, it does jot carry risks of erection or fertility issues but following are the risk which may be caused:
- Bleeding (very rarely for longer durations)
Swelling in scrotum
Collection of blood under skin
Internal damage to testicles or surrounding organs
Duration of Testicular Biopsy
Testicular biopsy is not a time taking procedure, in fact it is an out patient procedure which takes 15 to 20 minutes for its completion. A patient has to stay still during the procedure for which he may be sedated or given general anaesthesia.
Results of Testicular Biopsy
It takes two to four days for the results to arrive. The results of testicular biopsy can either be normal or abnormal. It is termed as normal when there is normal sperm development and no cancerous cells are detected. Results are termed as abnormal when there is problem with sperm or hormone function. Sometimes, test results appear normal but semen analysis show no/lack of sperm production. It can be due to blocked tubes through which sperm travels to urethra. Such blockage can be treated through surgery.
Testicular biopsy, commonly, is performed to detect the cause of infertility. It is done after a semen analysis suggests there is abnormal sperm and the cause of it is not being determined by other tests. If the sperm is being produced and present in the testicles, through this procedure sperm is obtained which helps in achieving fatherhood through assisted reproductive technology.