2 June 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
Cork Fertility Centre has announced the first reported pregnancy as a result of an advanced sperm retrieval technique, Microsurgical Testicular Sperm Extraction (Micro-TESE) in Ireland. This development offers new hope to men struggling with sperm-related fertility issues. It means there is a greater possibility for affected couples to have children, without having to use donor semen.
The Micro-TESE procedure was carried out on a patient from Cork in conjunction with the centre’s scientific team, before the man and his partner underwent IVF treatment. The patient previously had testicular surgery which affected his sperm production, and as a result required Micro-TESE.
The procedure was performed by Cork Fertility Centre’s Consultant Urologist and Andrologist, Dr Ivor Cullen at his practice in University Hospital Waterford. Dr Cullen is one of only a few urologists in Ireland qualified to carry out this highly specialised surgery.
Commenting on the success with Micro-TESE, Dr Cullen said “This is a landmark pregnancy and very positive news regarding the treatment of male infertility and in particular azoospermia. Azoospermia is a condition where no sperm cells are found in a semen sample, perhaps as a result of a hormone imbalance or other medical problem. It offers renewed hope to these men, and to men who have been diagnosed with defective sperm production, or had previous unsuccessful conventional sperm retrieval procedures.”
Micro-TESE is a welcome development in the treatment of men who cannot produce sperm. The procedure involves carrying out targeted dissection of tiny tubes within the testicle, which are more likely to contain sperm. A high powered microscope is used during the procedure to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissue. The healthy tissue samples are then examined in the laboratory. If viable sperm is found, it is prepared and frozen for use in a subsequent IVF cycle.
Head of Laboratory Services at Cork Fertility Centre, Dr Tim Dineen, also commented “The team at Cork Fertility Centre is delighted for this couple and would like to extend our congratulations. This procedure involved precise surgery and robust laboratory techniques; we will continue to pioneer innovative and evidence-based procedures and techniques, such as Micro-TESE, that help and benefit our patients overcoming their fertility struggles.”
Cork Fertility Centre has carried out in-house testicular biopsy – known as TESE – for men with azoospermia for over a decade, and achieved their first birth through this technique in 2004. TESE is beneficial for azoospermic men whose basic problem is duct blockage. Micro-TESE is a more advanced procedure for men whose basic problem is failure to produce sperm cells. Both treatments are available at Cork Fertility Centre.