Introduction and objective: In Europe, nearly every sixth couple in the reproductive age is involuntarily
childless. In about 30%, both male and female reveal fertility problems. In about 10% of infertile men,
azoospermia is the underlying cause. As conventional therapeutic options are limited, surgical testicular sperm
extraction (TESE) is necessary to obtain sperms for assisted reproductive techniques. Regarding the females, up
to 30% of all idiopathic infertilities are due to alterations of the uterine tube So far, no imaging technique, which
does not require any labelling, is available to evaluate the male and female genital tract at a microscopic level
under in vivo conditions. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the potential of optical coherence
tomography (OCT) as a non-invasive diagnostic tool in gynaecology and andrology.
Material and Methods: Tissues samples from the bovine testis, epididymis, vas deferens, ovary, oviduct
(ampulla and isthmus) and uterus were obtained immediately after slaughter (14 cows aged 3 to 8 years and 14
bulls aged 3 to 6 years; breeds: Holstein- Friesian, and Deutsches Fleckvieh). Imaging was done by using the US
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved probe-based Niris Imaging System (Imalux, Cleveland, Ohio,
USA) and the Telesto 1325 nm OCT System and Ganymede 930 nm OCT System (Thorlabs Inc., Dachau,
Germany). All images obtained were compared to histological images after paraffin embedding and HE
Results: OCT imaging visualized the microarchitecture of the testis, epididymis, spermatic duct and the ovary,
oviduct and uterus. Using the Thorlabs systems a axial resolution of approx. 5μm and lateral resolution of 8-
15μm could be achieved. Different optical tissue volumes could be visualized, which depends on the optical
penetration depth of the wavelength of the system used. While the tissue volume observed by probe based
Imalux-OCT is similar to the used Thorlabs systems, the optical resolution is reduced. By means of the
microscopic OCT-system differentiation of testical tissue structures like content and diameter of seminiferous
tubules and the epididymal duct was possible. Structures of the female oviduct, like the primary, secondary and
tertiary folds including the typical epithelium consisting of secretory and ciliated cells were identified. Ampulla
and isthmus were clearly differentiated by the height of the folds and the thickness of the smooth muscle layer.
Imaging was successful both from the outside wall and from the inner lumen. After experience with microscopic
OCT-structure identification such structures could also be identified by means of probe based OCT.
Conclusions: Technical improvement of probe-based OCT up to a high-resolution level of nowadays-available
OCT microscopic systems could open up new ways of in vivo imaging in the reproductive tract. Potential
applications could be an OCT-guided testicular biopsy for improving sperm retrieval or microscopic evaluation
of the oviduct by OCT-assisted fertiloscopy. The latter would provide a valuable tool to facilitate the decision of
which type of assisted reproductive techniques might be preferred.
Objective: In-vitro investigation of Ho:YAG-laser induced stone fragmentation was performed to identify potential impacts of different pulse durations on stone fragmentation characteristics. Materials and Methods: An innovative Ho:YAG laser system (Swiss LaserClast, EMS S.A., Nyon, Switzerland) with selectable long- or short pulse mode was tested with regard to its fragmentation properties. The pulse duration depends on the specific laser parameter used. Fragmentation tests (hand held, hands free, single pulse induced crater) on artificial BEGO-Stones and fiber burn back tests were performed under reproducible experimental conditions. Additionally, the repulsion of long versus short laser pulses was compared using the pendulum set-up. Results: Differences in fragmentation rates between the two pulse duration regimes were seen. The difference was, however, not statistically significant. Using long pulse mode, the fiber burn back is nearly negligible while in short pulse mode an increased burn back was seen. The results of the pendulum test showed that the deviation induced by the momentum of shorter pulses is increased compared to longer pulses. Conclusion: Long pulse-mode showed reduced side effects like repulsion and fiber burn back in comparison to short pulse-mode while fragmentation rates remained at a comparable level. Lower push back and reduced burn back of longer laser pulses may results in better clinical outcome of laser lithotripsy and more convenient handling during clinical use.