Glossary of Terms

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The word karyotype can be used in two different ways. The karyotype of a cell is the presence, as well as the specific arrangement and form, of the cell's chromosomes. A normal human cell has 46 chromosomes. Abnormalities of certain chromosomes, such as an extra chromosome, can be detected by doing a test in which a photograph is taken of the chromosomes from a single cell. This test is also referred to as a karyotype because the shape, size and presence of chromosomes from the cell are analyzed. This test is done for couples who suffer from recurrent miscarriages, in order to look for a specific chromosomal abnormality called "translocation", which can result in the loss of important genetic material therefore causing miscarriages. In men with severe male factor infertility or azoospermia, there is an increased chance that they have a genetic abnormality. A karyotype of their blood is often recommended.