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Arch Hellen Med, 28(2), March-April 2011, 208-218


Quality control of semen analysis

T. Zeginiadou,1 I. Vakalopoulos,1 D. Radopoulos,1 N. Sofikitis2
1First Department of Urology, "G. Gennimatas" Hospital of Thessaloniki, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki,
2Department of Urology, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

Semen analysis is the first step in evaluation of the infertile man. The evaluation of semen parameters is subjective and the quality of the results depends on the method used and the accuracy of the procedure. The semen analysis results on the same sample can vary considerably between different andrological laboratories. A major reason for this variability is the absence of quality control procedures among the various different laboratories. To avoid such discrepancies an andrological laboratory should firstly establish internal quality control procedures, followed by participation in an external quality control scheme. Quality assurance is at the top of the quality control methods. For internal quality control each technician first tests him- or herself in examining all three parameters of semen analysis, which are sperm concentration, sperm motility and sperm morphology. The values of the semen parameters are acceptable only when their variation falls within a narrow range. In busy laboratories, where semen analysis is carried out by several different technicians, internal quality control between all the technicians is a necessary procedure, in order to ensure the accuracy and reproducibility of the findings. In other words, the results should be independent of the person carrying out the analysis. The andrology laboratory should then participate in an external quality control scheme. The same semen sample is tested by different laboratories and their results are compared; the variation between the laboratories should fall within a narrow range. This ensures that values between different laboratories are comparable. In addition to internal and external quality control is quality assurance, which ensures the best service to the patient and makes sure that treatment of subfertility is accomplished with maximum safety and minimum cost.

Key words: External quality control, Internal quality control, Male subfertility, Quality assurance, Semen analysis.

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