Surgical sperm retrieval – PESA and TESE

Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA)

Surgical sperm retrieval procedures can be used in cases where a mechanical blockage of the vas deferens, either congenital or acquired as the result of vasectomy or disease process, means that sperm produced by the testes cannot be released and remain stored in the epididymis. This trapped sperm can be removed by surgical sperm retrieval via a simple procedure known as PESA. In this procedure a fine needle is inserted through the skin of the scrotum to remove the sperm from the epididymis.

Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)

TESE is performed when PESA has been unsuccessful, and in men suffering from early signs of testicular failure where no sperm is likely to be present in the epididymis. The procedure involves a small incision being made in the scrotum and testis, and a biopsy of testicular tissue is taken from which sperm is extracted in the laboratory. Unfortunately, in a small number of cases we may be unsuccessful in retrieving sperm, and the option is then to either abandon egg recovery or continue with the use of pre-planned donor sperm.

PESA and TESE procedures are carried out under sedation aided by local anaesthetic and are normally performed on the same day, but prior to the female partner’s egg recovery.

To find out more about surgical sperm retrieval techniques at Herts & Essex Fertility please call our embryology team on 01992 78 50 75 or email