A testicular biopsy is a medical surgery done to extract a piece of tissue from the testicles for further analysis. The laboratory analysis can be used to diagnose medical conditions, such as the cause and locations of lumps in the testes, as well as fertility conditions. In addition, a testicular biopsy can be used to extract sperm for in vitro fertilization (IVF).
A testicular biopsy is performed by creating a small incision in the skin of the scrotum and is virtually painless. A percutaneous biopsy is when a tiny needle is inserted into the scrotum to remove tissue. This is also known as a “fine needle biopsy.” An open biopsy, by contrast, involves a small incision in the scrotum, and is commonly referred to as a “surgical biopsy.”
Testicular biopsy and male fertility
Testicular biopsies can be used to diagnose male-factor infertility conditions
However, it’s not typically the first step in fertility testing. Prior to undergoing this procedure, specialists typically recommend blood tests and a semen analysis (SA) to gain a better understanding of any existing fertility or health conditions. A biopsy, however, can determine whether reduced sperm production is caused by a blockage, or diagnose conditions such as testicular cancer.
Finally, when a person is diagnosed with azoospermia, testicular biopsy can be used to identify if there is sperm in the testes, and testicular sperm extraction can be used to retrieve enough sperm for IVF with ICSI.
Preparing for a testicular biopsy
Before undergoing a testicular biopsy it is important to speak to a physician and discuss medical history as allergies or medications (such as blood thinners) can impact the outcome of a testicular biopsy. For instance, medications that trigger blood clotting or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can pose a risk for the procedure. However, there is little risk with a testicular biopsy as it involves a tiny incision, which has no effect on fertility or future erections.Back to Glossary