Testicular Biopsy in Patients With Obstructive Azoospermia : The American Journal of Surgical Pathology

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Testicular Biopsy in Patients With Obstructive Azoospermia

Nistal, Manuel; Riestra, María Luisa; Galmés-Belmonte, Ignacio; Paniagua, Ricardo

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The American Journal of Surgical Pathology 23(12):p 1546, December 1999.


The present report studies the testicular biopsy lesions (histologic and semiquantitative) in a series of 48 patients with obstructive azoospermia of known etiology (vasectomy, congenital absence of vas deferens, herniorrhaphy, hydrocelectomy, Young's syndrome, and ejaculatory duct obstruction) in order to establish objective testicular data that permit the pathologist to diagnose an obstructive process, which should not be mistaken with a primary testicular lesion. The semiquantitative study included determinations of the average numbers of spermatogonia, primary spermatocytes, young spermatids (Sa + Sb), and differentiated spermatids (Sc + Sd). According to this study, the testes were classified into the following groups: (1) normal testes whose germ cell numbers were within normal limits (27 testes); (2) testes with lesions in the adluminal compartment; these lesions comprise two subgroups: (2a) late sloughing of primary spermatocytes (both spermatid types were greatly reduced in number while the other germ cell types were in normal numbers) (45 testes); and (2b) early sloughing of primary spermatocytes (normal spermatogonial number, reduced number of spermatocytes, and scanty spermatids) (9 testes); and (3) lesions in the basal compartment; these lesions comprise two subgroups: (3a) pure hypospermatogenesis (a proportionate decrease in the numbers of all germ cell types) (8 testes); and (3b) hypospermatogenesis associated with sloughing of primary spermatocytes (decreased numbers of all germ cell types with a very scanty number spermatids) (4 testes). Two testes appeared hyalinized and one testis was removed owing to cryptorchidism. The most frequent testicular lesion observed (alteration in the adluminal compartment of seminiferous tubules) seems to be related to the increase in hydrostatic pressure in the tight compartment formed by seminiferous tubules, rete testis, efferent ducts, the epididymal duct, and the initial portion of the vas deferens. The severity of the lesions is probably related to the cause and span of the obstruction. In addition, two azoospermic men without obstructive azoospermia and whose testicular biopsy study revealed meiotic anomalies (with the subsequent bad prognosis) were also studied for comparison. The semiquantitative study of these patients permitted the differential diagnosis between two lesion types. Testes with meiotic anomalies had a disproportionately elevated number of primary spermatocytes, and an extremely low number of young spermatids.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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