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GLOSSARY

Biopsy

A biopsy is a medical procedure in which a sample of tissue is taken from the body to be analyzed in a lab. Many types of biopsies exist, including testicular, kidney, bone, and liver biopsies. Biopsies can be used to diagnose a medical condition, such as cancer, and to recommend a treatment method suited for the issue.

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is a medical procedure in which a piece of tissue or a sample of cells is removed from the body so that it can be examined in a laboratory. Biopsies are commonly used to look for cancer, though they can also help detect infections and inflammatory or autoimmune disorders. In some cases, biopsies may be performed to match organ tissue preceding a transplant or to check for signs of organ rejection after a transplant has been done. Biopsies may also be performed to extract sperm for the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. 

Biopsy for male fertility

When a semen analysis indicates that there are abnormal semen parameters, such as azoospermia, or other tests have not confirmed the cause for male infertility, doctors may order a testicular biopsy. This procedure entails removing a piece of tissue from the testicles and examining it under a microscope to determine whether sperm production problems are caused by a blockage or testicular cancer, and whether sperm is actually being produced in the testicles.

If doctors find that sperm are being made in the testicles but are not present in the semen — or the sperm in the semen is very low quality — a testicular biopsy can be performed to obtain sperm directly from the testes. Sperm can then be used to fertilize an egg in a lab using IVF and ICSI.

Process of biopsy

Biopsies are performed in a number of different ways, depending upon the area of the body being tested and the reason for the biopsy. In the case of a testicular biopsy, It may be performed in a doctor's office or a hospital and is considered an outpatient procedure. There are two types of testicular biopsies: a needle biopsy or an open biopsy.

During a needle biopsy, the area is cleaned and local anesthesia is used. Then, a thin needle is inserted through the skin of the scrotum and into the testicle to collect tissue. In an open biopsy, a small surgical incision is made instead, to remove a small piece of testicular tissue; the incision is then closed with stitches.

In both scenarios, a slight sting is felt when the anesthetic is administered, but the procedure itself should only cause slight pressure and no pain. Testicular biopsies are typically short in duration, taking around ​​15–20 minutes. The healing process depends on the type of biopsy performed.

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