Reasons for performing study: Sperm motility is considered to be one of the key features of semen analysis. Assessment of motility is frequently performed using computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA). Nevertheless, no uniform standards are present to analyse a semen sample using CASA.
Objectives: We hypothesised that the type of counting chamber used might influence the results of analysis and aimed to study the effect of chamber type on estimated concentration and motility of an equine semen sample assessed using CASA.
Methods: Commonly used disposable Leja chambers of different depths were compared with disposable and reusable ISAS chambers, a Makler chamber and a World Health Organization (WHO) motility slide. Motility parameters and concentrations obtained with CASA using these different chambers were analysed. The NucleoCounter was used as gold standard for determining concentration.
Results: Concentration and motility parameters were significantly influenced by the chamber type used. Using the NucleoCounter as the gold standard for determining concentration, the correlation coefficients were low for all of the various chambers evaluated, with the exception of the 12 µm deep Leja chamber. Filling a chamber by capillary forces resulted in a lower observed concentration and reduced motility parameters. All chambers evaluated in this study resulted in significant lower progressive motility than the WHO prepared slide, with the exception of the Makler chamber, which resulted in a slight, but statistically significant, increase in progressive motility estimates.
Conclusions and potential relevance: Computer-assisted sperm analysis can only provide a rough estimate of sperm concentration and overestimation is likely when drop-filled slides with a coverslip are used. Motility estimates using CASA are highly influenced by the counting chamber; therefore, a complete description of the chamber type used should be provided in semen reports and in scientific articles.