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My lab: collaborative andrology laboratory

Trainee Biomedical Scientist Binod Thapa gives a guided tour of the andrology department of North West London Pathology (NWLP).

NWLP is a collaboration of NHS organisations, including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, and Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, encompassing seven hospitals. Our goal is to provide high-quality diagnostic lab services to hospitals and primary care in North West London.

The andrology laboratory, based at Hammersmith Hospital, is a leading specialised unit dedicated to investigating and diagnosing male infertility. It holds a license from the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), allowing it to undertake sperm cryopreservation – a crucial service for cancer patients and those seeking fertility treatment. This long-term sperm freezing offers patients the opportunity to preserve their fertility, providing hope for their future.

Licensed by the HFEA since 1992, the andrology laboratory operates as a storage-only centre. It serves oncological patients throughout the South of the UK, adhering to HFEA standards.

Our service is accredited by UKAS to meet the ISO 15189 standard. We have comprehensive internal quality assurance and control procedures, and actively participating in external quality assurance schemes. Regular internal audits are conducted, enabling us to continually refine our procedures and enhance service delivery.

The andrology laboratory works in close collaboration with the Wolfson Family Clinic at Hammersmith Hospital. It has also established relationships with IVF units in the UK and abroad, fostering a network of expertise and collaboration. This enhances quality of care and broadens the range of services available to patients.

A unique feature of the andrology lab is its dedicated male fertility clinic – one of the few in the UK. Our clinic works closely with the urology team, offering specialised services, such as microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (mTESE) and testicular mapping, led by Professor Suks Minhas, a renowned Consultant Urologist. These services provide targeted and personalised treatment options for men facing fertility challenges.

The laboratory’s role extends beyond treatment to include preliminary fertility investigations. Through diagnostic semen analysis, we assess parameters such as sperm count, motility and morphology in fresh ejaculate, providing valuable insights into a man’s fertility status. We also perform post-vasectomy semen analysis to confirm the procedure’s success.

Under the guidance of Dr Channa Jayasena, Consultant in Reproductive Endocrinology and Andrology, the laboratory actively engages in various research projects, such as exploring the physiological effects of weight loss on male fertility, identifying the link between fertility and metabolic health problems and establishing “corrected cholesterol” as a novel marker for predicting semen post-thaw quality.

Working in the andrology lab is a fulfilling experience. Every day, I see the dedication and passion of my colleagues. We’re not just healthcare workers; we’re advocates for our patients’ futures. We use the latest research and our expertise to provide hope and solutions to those facing fertility challenges. Hammersmith Hospital’s andrology lab is a centre of excellence in male fertility research and treatment, making a difference one discovery at a time. Our work offers hope and solutions to patients, and it contributes to a better understanding of male fertility problems.

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