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Minerva Urologica e Nefrologica 2005 June;57(2):99-107


language: English

Sperm retrieval for intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection in non-obstructive azoospermia

Colpi G. M. 1, Piediferro G. 1, Nerva F. 1, Giacchetta D. 1, Colpi E. M. 2, Piatti E. 1

1 Andrology Unit, San Paolo Hospital Polo Universitario, Milan, Italy 2 Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit University of Insubria, Varese, Italy


Surgical testicular sperm retrieval for intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) purposes is the only possibility of biological fathering in case of non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA). Successful retrieval only correlates with histology, not with FSH values or testicular volume. Concurrent AZFa and AZFb microdeletions predict unsuccessful recovery. Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) (mean of successful retrievals in literature: 52.7%) is the technique of choice: we had successful retrievals in 100% of cases of hypospermatogenesis with > 5 spermatids/tubule (spd/tub), 81.8% of cases of hypospermatogenesis with <4 spd/tub, 50% of cases of maturation arrest, and 25% of cases of histologically pure Sertoli cell-only syndrome. Microsurgical TESE (mTESE) has been reported to increase successful retrievals: from 16.7-45% for standard TESE to 42.9-63.6% for mTESE, depending on the distribution of testicular histology in the various case studies; from 9 to 14 cases out of 22, respectively, in the only study in which TESE and mTESE were performed simultaneously on the same testis. Improvements in biological procedures for TESE retrievals can increase positive findings. TeFNA does not appear to be indicated in NOA, both because of its low success rates - which, in practice, are only positive in hypospermatogenesis - and because it is unable to detect any carcinomas in situ. Previous surgery of left varicocele in NOA could increase the chances of subsequent recovery. ICSI from TESE has lower birth rates in NOA than in obstructive azoospermia (OA) (19% vs 28%). Abortion rates are significantly higher following ICSI from NOA (11.5%) than from OA (2.5%) (P=0.001). Therefore, the prognosticated fertility of a couple with an NOA male is quite lower than for a couple with an OA male.

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