Journal Article

Live birth rates after MESA or TESE in men with obstructive azoospermia: is there a difference?

Madelon van Wely, Natalie Barbey, Andreas Meissner, Sjoerd Repping and Sherman J. Silber

in Human Reproduction

Published on behalf of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Volume 30, issue 4, pages 761-766
Published in print April 2015 | ISSN: 0268-1161
Published online March 2015 | e-ISSN: 1460-2350 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dev032
Live birth rates after MESA or TESE in men with obstructive azoospermia: is there a difference?

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STUDY QUESTION

How do live birth rates compare after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for men with obstructive azoospermia when using sperm derived from testicular sperm extraction (TESE) versus microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA)?

SUMMARY ANSWER

Our study suggests that proximal epididymal sperm (from MESA) result in higher live birth rates as compared with testicular sperm (from TESE) in couples where the man has obstructive azoospermia due to congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD) or vasectomy.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

For couples with obstructive azoospermia, MESA (epididymal sperm) and TESE (testicular sperm) have generally been assumed to be equivalent for use in ICSI. But this assumption has never been confirmed, and this view has important clinical and basic scientific consequences.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

This was a retrospective study of a consecutive cohort of 374 men with obstructive azoospermia and normal spermatogenesis, who underwent IVF and ICSI using either epididymal sperm or testicular sperm in the period 2000–2009.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

The study included men undergoing MESA or TESE at St. Luke's Hospital for obstructive azoospermia due to CBAVD or vasectomy.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

A total of 280 couples underwent MESA and 94 underwent TESE with ICSI. The live birth rate was 39% after MESA-ICSI and 24% after TESE-ICSI. The MESA-ICSI cycles also resulted in a significantly higher implantation rate and significantly higher clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates than the TESE-ICSI cycles. There was no significant difference in results between fresh or frozen sperm for both MESA and TESE. When adjusted for the available confounders, the odds ratio for live birth was significantly in favour of MESA-ICSI versus TESE-ICSI (OR 1.82; 95% CI 1.05–3.67). The only significant confounders were female age and ovarian reserve.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

This is a retrospective cohort study and not a randomized clinical trial.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

Our study suggests that some aspect of sperm maturation after the sperm leaves the testicle to enter the epididymis is required for the most optimal results, even when ICSI is used for fertilization.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

No funding was used and there are no competing interests.

Keywords: obstructive azoospermia; MESA; TESE; infertility; assisted reproduction

Journal Article.  3699 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Reproductive Medicine

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