Microscopic evaluation of the vasal fluid for sperm at the time of vasectomy reversal: Do we really need to check?
Introduction: During vasectomy reversal (VR), intraoperative microscopic evaluation of the vasal fluid for sperm presence/quality can inform of the possibility of epididymal obstruction and need for a vasoepididymostomy (VE). In an effort to validate the utility of microscopic vasal fluid evaluation, the current initiative correlates gross vasal fluid characteristics with sperm presence and quality in a large series of VRs.
Methods: A total of 1267 VRs yielded a total of 2522 vasal-units (right/left sides) for analysis. During VR, vasal fluid was sampled from the testicular-end vas and the fluid was characterized (thick-paste/opaque/translucent/clear). Each aspirate underwent microscopic evaluation for sperm quality and categorized as: motile sperm/intact-non-motile sperm/sperm parts/no sperm. The predictive utility of the gross vasal fluid characteristics with respect to microscopic sperm presence and quality was analyzed.
Results: Among the 2522 vasal-units analyzed, the side-to-side (left-right) concordance of vasal fluid quality and microscopic vasal sperm quality was 72% and 52%, respectively. When thick-pasty fluid was observed, no sperm were seen in the samples in 53% of cases and if present, only non-motile sperm were observed. Even in the setting of more favorable vasal fluid characteristics (clear, translucent, and opaque fluid), no sperm were seen in 6–11% of cases, suggesting the possibility of epididymal obstruction and the need for VE.
Conclusions: Intraoperative microscopic evaluation of the vasal fluid for sperm is a necessary practice during VR to optimize surgical outcomes. Reliance on gross vasal fluid characteristics in isolation may lead to unrecognized epididymal obstruction, and the need for a VE, in approximately 11% of cases.
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