Should all urologists performing vasectomy reversals be able to perform vasoepididymostomies if required?

J Urol. 2004 Sep;172(3):1048-50. doi: 10.1097/01.ju.0000135118.43383.b1.


Purpose: While vasectomy reversal is a highly successful procedure 10% to 30% of reversals may fail. Despite the general consensus that an epididymal obstruction may occur following a vasectomy and that some men should undergo vasoepididymostomy (VE) rather than vasovasostomy (VV), the practice of many urologists in our region has been to offer only VV for vasectomy reversal. We examined the potential causes for vasectomy reversal failure in patients who had undergone VV without an attempt at VE.

Materials and methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patients who had undergone redo vasectomy reversal from January 1999 to September 2001. A total of 22 patients underwent redo reversal with a minimum followup of 2 years. The medical records of all patients were then reviewed. Patients and partners seen postoperatively in the clinic were questioned regarding any pregnancy or deliveries.

Results: We examined 22 patients who had undergone redo vasectomy reversal. Of 22 patients 9 (40.9%) underwent repeat VV, 8 (36.3%) underwent bilateral VE for a presumed unrecognized epididymal obstruction and 5 (22.7%) had a combination of VE and VV. Of the 44 reproductive units studied 23 (52.3%) had a failed vasal anastomosis while 21 (47.7%) had an unrecognized epididymal obstruction. Based on semen analysis patency was observed in 75% of patients who had undergone vasovasostomy as a redo procedure. A patency rate of 60% was found in patients who underwent vasoepididymostomy and vasovasostomy unilaterally, and patency rates for bilateral VE were 63%.

Conclusions: Our study indicates that a large proportion of men (48%) have an epididymal obstruction as the etiology for vasectomy reversal failure. We recommend that all surgeons offering vasectomy reversals be able to offer VE if required based on intraoperative findings to serve the patient adequately as well as his partner and their future fertility.

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Surgical
  • Clinical Competence
  • Constriction, Pathologic
  • Epididymis / pathology
  • Epididymis / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reoperation
  • Sperm Count
  • Treatment Failure
  • Urology
  • Vas Deferens / surgery*
  • Vasectomy / adverse effects
  • Vasovasostomy / methods*