Microsurgical vasectomy reversal: results and predictors of success
© Société d’Andrologie de Langue Française 2005
Received: 15 January 2005
Accepted: 15 February 2005
Microsurgical vasectomy reversal is a challenge for the physician but successful treatment depends on the experience and skills of the surgeon. Fertility can often be restored, thus avoiding the need for artificial reproductive techniques. Also, the surgical procedures can be combined with sperm aspiration and cryopreservation, to be used for Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in cases of surgical failure. We describe the results of 217 vasovasostomy procedures, with special emphasis on recent technical refinements and prognostic indicators.
Between 1998 and 2002 we performed 217 vasovasostomy-procedures in an outpatient clinic setting. Refertilisation was successful in 76.5%, spontaneous pregnancy occurred in 42% of the couples after, a follow-up of at least 1 year. The main prognostic factors determining the outcome of the surgery was the interval between vasectomy and refertilisation and the age of the female partner: patency was 89% after an interval of less than 5 years and pregnancy occurred in 56% of these couples. After an interval of more than 10 years patency decreased to 75% and pregnancy results dropped to 24%. Epididymal dysfunction with poor motility score and secondary epididymal obstruction appeared to be common after a long interval. Furthermore, in men with partners older than 35 years of age pregnancy was only 21%, indicating limited ovarian reserve as an important factor in determining the final outcome.
In men with a long obstructive interval between vasectomy and reversal an obstruction of the epididymis can be found due to a blow-out of the epididymal tubule with subsequent leakage of semen in the organ and fibrosis. A vaso-epididymostomy procedure is needed to treat the obstruction. Recently, surgical refinements, such as the invagination technique, have been introduced for the vaso-epididymostomy procedure, showing promising first results. This simplified technique enables less experienced microsurgeons to perform this difficult operation successfully. The results of vasectomy reversal procedures can be improved substantially if the surgeon is able to perform a vaso-epididymostomy in cases of a secondary epididymal obstruction, occurring in about 25% of men with an interval of more than 10 years.