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TESA is one of the newest state-of-the-art technology provided by the ART Program of Alabama. The TESA procedure removes sperm directly from a man's testicles, bypassing his reproductive tract. The ART Program has been successful in retrieving sperm in over 75% of cases, reporting no difference in fertilization rates in males requiring TESA compared to males with low sperm counts (total motile sperm < 20 million when combined with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection and IVF.)

Men who have a low or absent sperm count due to obstructive causes like failed vasectomy reversal, absence of vas deferens or scar tissue in their outlet track can benefit from this new procedure. This may also benefit some men who make low levels of sperm due to problems in the testicles.

The TESA procedure is usually performed in the physician's office or outpatient setting using a sedative to relax the man. The patient may encounter a slight amount of brief pain but is usually able to resume normal activities the next day.

The device the physician uses to collect the sperm has been used for years to gather tissue samples in breast, kidney, liver and prostate biopsies. The plastic device, which fits into the physician's palm, inserts a needle about 1/2 inch into the testicle and removes a small sample of tissue. An andrologist separates the sperm from other parts of the tissue by placing the sample in a special medium. The medium triggers the sperm to break away from the tissue - the first step in capturing it for the fertilization process. Another special fluid is added to slow the sperm down to enable the andrologist to catch them.

During the TESA procedure, as many 50 to 100 sperm may be collected. In conjunction with IVF and ICSI technologies, one sperm is injected into each egg retrieved from the wife, who has been given hormones to produce multiple eggs. When a sperm fertilizes an egg, the initial stages of an embryo begin to form in as little as 12 hours. Five days later, an embryo is placed in the uterus and a pregnancy begins.

Of course, TESA does not entirely replace varicocele repair, vasectomy reversals or open techniques for sperm retrieval including micro-surgical epididymal aspiration and open testicular biopsies.

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