A testicular biopsy is a diagnostic medical test involving the removal of tissue from a testicle for examination under a microscope in a lab. It is most commonly recommended during evaluations for male infertility, although sometimes it is also used in the diagnosis and treatment of suspicious lumps in the testicles. The procedure is usually done with local anesthesia and on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to go home once the biopsy is complete.
For men with fertility issues, if no sperm are produced in the ejaculate, a testicular biopsy can be performed to see if the testes are producing any sperm at all. If they are, it indicates the presence of a blockage or obstruction preventing the sperm from getting out of the testes. If they are not, the doctor may need to conduct more tests to find out why. The testicular biopsy can also be used to remove a sample of sperm for use in in vitro fertilization procedures.
When men find lumps in their testes during self exams, a testicular biopsy may be recommended to learn more about the lump. It is more common for a doctor to request an open surgical procedure to take out the whole lump for testing, and potentially to remove the testicle if there is an obvious malignant growth.
In a testicular biopsy, the patient is instructed to undress and lie on a table, where he will be draped for privacy and comfort. Local anesthetic will be used to numb the testes, allowing a doctor to take a needle biopsy or surgical biopsy. Once the sample is removed, the anesthetic can be allowed to wear off, and the patient can go home. There may be cases where regional or general anesthesia is recommended. In these cases, the procedure will be slightly more complex. The patient is often advised to stop taking blood thinners for several days before the biopsy, to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding and subsequent complications.
It can take several days to get results on a testicular biopsy. Doctors can usually provide an estimate so patients know when to expect a phone call about the results. Once the results are in, the patient can be called in to discuss the findings and their implications. Patients should be advised that being asked to come in for results is not necessarily a sign that something is seriously wrong. The doctor may request an office visit to be able to perform a checkup on the patient at the same time the biopsy results are given.