Can There Be Complete Resolution of Pain for Men With PVPS?
One of the most complimentary letters I have ever received was from a patient on whom I performed a vasectomy reversal for relief of chronic testicular pain which started after his vasectomy years previously. Go figure!
Urology – June 15, 2016 – Vol. 34 – No. 3
A subset of men have complete resolution of postvasectomy pain with vasectomy reversal. Most men have some improvement in pain scores with vasectomy reversal.
Article Reviewed: Vasectomy Reversal for Postvasectomy Pain Syndrome: A Study and Literature Review. Polackwich AS, Tadros NN, et al: Urology; 2015;86 (August): 269-272.
Background: Vasectomy is a common and effective procedure for sterility. Although complications are infrequent, postvasectomy pain syndrome (PVPS) does occur in some subset of patients. Most previous studies report that men who have PVPS do not generally seek additional medical treatment and have minimal affect on quality of life. However, a small subset has pain significant enough to require additional care and procedures.
Objective: To determine outcomes of vasectomy reversal (VR) for PVPS.
Design: Retrospective chart review.
Methods: A single surgeon series was reviewed for men who underwent VR for PVPS. Although there was not an algorithmic approach to preoperative pain management, patients were only considered for VR if they had worsening of pain with ejaculation or arousal. The location of vasectomy site along the vas deferens was recorded at time of the procedure in the operative note. Pain scores were evaluated with a non-validated questionnaire by recall.
Results: 31 patients from a pool of 123 potential patients were included. There was a 59% improvement in pain scores, with 34% of patients reporting a complete resolution of pain. Two patients required additional procedures for pain (epididymectomy and orchiectomy), and 84% of patients would recommend VR to a man with PVPS. There was no relationship between location of vasectomy and possibility of PVPS.
Conclusions: VR for PVPS demonstrated significant improvements in pain scores in this study.
Reviewer’s Comments: Although the questionnaire is non-validated and the pain scores are by recall, the fact that men generally reported an improvement in pain scores with VR is reassuring. As roughly one-third of men had total resolution of pain, there is likely an etiology of vasal obstruction leading to pain among these men. I have always wondered if some of the cases captured in studies looking at PVPS are really just the background of orchalgia in the population that we now attribute to the previous vasectomy. Considering how few men seek medical attention and undergo procedures for PVPS, I have always believed there is likely a group of men who have intermittent scrotal pain and a group who clearly have pain from vasectomy-induced obstruction. In their comments, the authors observe how patients seemed to group into complete (or almost complete) resolution of pain or minimal change in pain. As the authors were thoughtful by only considering men for reversal if they had pain with ejaculation or sexual stimulation, one would hope that this would only select men who truly have an obstruction-induced pain syndrome. This is a nice addition to the literature and does point out that there are some men who fully respond to reversal for PVPS. These men, however, may be difficult to identify preoperatively.(Reviewer–Charles Welliver, MD).