Understanding Morphology on the SQA-V Gold

September 3, 2011

The SQA-V grades “Normal Morphology” according to WHO 3rd, 4th, or 5th edition criteria. It does so by tracking the normal and abnormal motion patterns of the sperm cells in relation to the overall sample population (10,000+ cells analyzed vs. 200~400 manually). The SQA-V processes the differences in sperm motion patterns and correlate them to morphological defects via electro-optic infrared analysis.  Example: A man walking with a broken leg creates abnormal motion based on his abnormal morphology. His walking “pattern” can be abnormal even if he is moving “quickly”. The system cannot necessarily tell if it is a broken leg or another defect like a broken back – but the signals generated do show a problem. For this reason, the SQA-V only reports Normal vs. Abnormal as opposed to a full Morphology breakdown. The system includes a 500x visualization system that allows any operator to verify any result at any time. Used this way, the machine has been validated and certified all over the world and is in routine use at some of the top labs in America and beyond. 

Although this is a non-standard approach to qualifying morphology, the correlation between abnormal motility and abnormal morphology is well documented (please see THIS DOCUMENT for references). MES dove deep into the causes of this relationship and have fine-tuned our morphology algorithm to include all relevant data to deliver the most accurate result possible during a routine semen analysis. And remember – ANY operator can run a sample on the SQA-V whereas it takes considerable expertise to perform a detailed manual morphology estimation.

Please check out THIS ARTICLE published in Fertility & Sterility comparing the SQA’s morphology assessment to that of two experienced manual operators – you can also find many additional studies HERE.  This study (and many like it) showcase the extreme variability associated with manual estimation. The typical aliquot analyzed manually (400 cells) represents less than .00001% of the total ejaculate and is subject to extreme subjective interpretation. To compound the problem there are many different “standards” that the tech can use to estimate the morphology. When all is said and done you are flipping a coin trying to achieve an accurate manual morphology count (check out the CAP manual morphology results to see the extreme variability). Unlike the manual method, the SQA-V delivers an OBJECTIVE and reliable normal vs. abnormal screening. When you combined the morphology result with the 15 additional reported parameters the system delivers a detailed report that quantifies sperm quality accurately, precisely, and VERY quickly.