Evaluation of the reproductive function of Lama glama is generally considered to be a challenging task due to the difficulty of obtaining representative semen samples. One method that has been proposed for evaluation of testicular function in these animals is histologic examination of testicular needle biopsies. This study was undertaken to examine the safety and efficacy of using needle biopsies to assess testicular function in this species. One randomly selected testicle from each of 16 sexually mature llamas was biopsied with a 14-gauge self-firing biopsy instrument. The llamas were evaluated over a 6-week period with thermography for temperature changes of the scrotum. At the end of the 6-week trial, the llamas were castrated and sections of each testis were fixed in Bouin's solution for histologic examination. Immediately prior to castration, an additional biopsy was taken from each testis to compare the tissue obtained via biopsy with sections from the corresponding testis obtained after castration. A qualitative grading scale was used to compare the seminiferous tubules from each testis. No difference was found between the biopsied and the nonbiopsied testes (P = 0.69). The percentage of normal tubules between the biopsied and the nonbiopsied sides also did not differ (P = 0.70). Furthermore, the percentage of normal seminiferous tubules did not differ between the needle biopsy samples and the corresponding tissue samples obtained at castration (P = 0.48). The number of round seminiferous tubules counted in each biopsy section ranged from 3 to 67. There was no significant difference in the thermographic images of the scrotum between the biopsied and the nonbiopsied testes. This study supports testicular biopsies as a safe and useful procedure in the evaluation of testicular function. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
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