According to research published on RadioGraphics, in about 20 percent of infertile couples, male infertility is the sole cause of the inability to conceive. At the same time, in 30-40 percent of these, male and female factors are the causes. Therefore, in approximately 50 percent of cases, a condition involving the male partner contributes to the infertility.
Identifying Potential Causes of Male Infertility
Usually, the initial diagnostic workup for infertility in the affected couple is started after 12 months of trying to conceive. However, if there is a high suspicion of male infertility, diagnostic workups may be started earlier. In this case, MRI plays an important role in identifying potentially correctable causes of infertility in men such as congenital abnormalities obstructing sperm transport or problems in sperm production. More particularly, MRI determines which branch of fertility disorders the patient belongs in.
MRI is considered superior to transrectal US for examining patients with male infertility. The images are able to show much more detailed anatomy and pathophysiologic features of the reproductive tract. This type of imaging also helps doctors identify cysts in different reproductive tract locations that may be causing the obstruction.
Use in Corrective Interventional Procedures
With its superb soft-tissue contrast and multiplanar capabilities, MRI is also suitable for use in corrective interventional procedures. Doctors may use the images of sex glands and their ducts to guide methods of impregnating the female partner. Some procedures that benefit from this aspect of the MRI include seminiferous tubules followed by in vitro fertilization, sperm aspiration from the epididymis and intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
Ruling out the possible causes of male infertility will certainly help couples in their efforts to conceive. Therefore, fetal ultrasound is not the only important imaging modality involved in creating new life. MRI is just as crucial, especially in successfully achieving pregnancy with or without corrective intervention.