We evaluate the traditional role of isolated testicular biopsy as a diagnostic tool, as opposed to the value as a therapeutic procedure for azoospermic men.
Materials and Methods:
The medical records of azoospermic patients who were evaluated, and treated between 1995 and 2000 were retrospectively analyzed for history, physical examination findings, endocrine profiles, testicular histology and sperm retrieval rates. Based on these parameters, cases were placed into diagnostic categories that included obstructive or nonobstructive azoospermia. Diagnostic parameters used to distinguish obstructive from nonobstructive azoospermia were subjected to statistical analysis with the t-test, analysis of variance and receiver operating characteristics curve.
A total of 153 azoospermic men were included in our analysis. Of men with obstructive azoospermia 96% had follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) 7.6 mIU/ml. or less, or testicular long axis greater than 4.6 cm. Conversely, 89% of men with nonobstructive azoospermia had FSH greater than 7.6 mIU/ml., or testicular long axis 4.6 cm. or less. Receiver operating characteristics analysis revealed that FSH, testicular long axis, and luteinizing hormone were the best individual diagnostic predictors, with areas 0.87, 0.83 and 0.79, respectively.
In the vast majority of patients obstructive azoospermia may be distinguished clinically from nonobstructive azoospermia with a thorough analysis of diagnostic parameters. Based on this result, we believe that the isolated diagnostic testicular biopsy is rarely if ever indicated. Men with FSH 7.6 mIU/ml. or greater, or testicular long axis 4.6 cm. or less may be considered to have nonobstructive azoospermia and counseled accordingly. These men are best treated with therapeutic testicular biopsy and sperm extraction, with processing and cryopreservation for usage in in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection if they accept advanced reproductive treatment. Diagnostic biopsy is of no other value in this group. Men with FSH 7.6 mIU/ml. or less, or testicular long axis greater than 4.6 cm. may elect to undergo reconstructive surgery with or without testicular biopsy and sperm extraction, or testicular biopsy and sperm extraction alone depending on their reproductive goals.
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From the Department of Urology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois