Objective: To assess the incidence of chronic postvasectomy testicular pain (CPTP) and evaluate the use of denervation of the spermatic cord in its management.
Patients and methods: A retrospective postal survey of 560 patients (mean age 36 years, range 25-55; mean time since vasectomy 19 months, range 8-39) who underwent vasectomy between July 1992 and December 1994 was carried out to determine the incidence of CPTP. A prospective study was conducted in a further group of 17 patients (mean age 43 years, range 34-60), who had had CPTP for at least one year, to evaluate the effectiveness of nerve stripping of the spermatic cord in relieving pain.
Results: Of 396 replies, 108 (27.2%) patients complained of some testicular pain following their vasectomy operation. In 88 (82%) of these 108 patients the pain was brief and was not defined as CPTP, while 20 (19%) patients had pain for > 3 months; 33 (31%) patients required analgesics to control the pain. Of the 17 patients who underwent spermatic cord denervation, 13 reported complete relief of pain at their first follow-up visit and were discharged. Four patients had a significant improvement in the symptom score and were satisfied with the results.
Conclusions: There is a small but significant incidence of CPTP and patients should be warned of this possibility when counselled before operation. Denervation of the spermatic cord seems to be a viable surgical option for patients with CPTP who fail to respond to conservative measures.