Testicular biopsy

A testicular biopsy is a mildly invasive surgery in which a piece of tissue from the testicles is removed and examined for the presence of active sperm cells. This is a simple, male fertility test which is generally done after a semen analysis shows that a man's ejaculate has very few, or no sperm cells at all (Azoospermia).

Why is Testicular Biopsy done?

A testicular biopsy is normally recommended to determine the cause of male infertility. Testicular biopsy may be performed in the following cases:

  • Results of the hormone test indicate they lie within the normal range
  • The man's semen does not contain any sperm (Azoospermia)
  • This procedure can be done to retrieve sperm for techniques such as in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF-ICSI) etc.

Types of Biopsy

There are many kinds of biopsy techniques such as:

  • Needle biopsy: Here a needle is used to remove a tiny piece of testicular tissue. It is carried out under local anesthetic.
  • Biopsy with Scissors: This technique makes use of a pair of scissors to extract a small piece of testicular tissue. It is performed under local anesthetic.
  • Open biopsy: It is more invasive procedure wherein a cut is made in the skin of the scrotum and the tissue is removed. This procedure is usually performed under local anesthetic and is recommended for patients with testicular cancer.

Testicular Biopsy Procedure

A testicular biopsy procedure is usually performed by a surgeon or an urologist on an outpatient basis. The patient is made to lie on his back while the surgeon sterilizes the skin that is present over the testicle using antiseptics and administers local anesthetic. He then injects a needle through the scrotum into the testicle to remove a piece of sample tissue which is sent to a laboratory where further examination will be done under a microscope. If few active sperm cells are found, the doctor will lead to the conclusion that the patient's sperm ducts are blocked in some way and appropriate treatment plan will be discussed.

The entire biopsy procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Complications, usually rare include severe swelling and pain in the testicles, heavy bleeding from the site of the biopsy, etc. In such cases, the patient should consult his doctor immediately.