Approximately 3 to 6% of all men presenting with infertility (excluding those with a history of vasectomy) are suspected of having epididymal obstruction. However, other anatomical abnormalities within the male reproductive tract are often encountered. In this study we attempted to define the range and frequencies of anatomical abnormalities in the reproductive tract and the outcome of surgical reconstruction in men with suspected epididymal obstruction and no history of vasectomy.Materials and Methods
Between July 1992 and July 1996, 80 azoospermic men with suspected epididymal obstruction underwent scrotal exploration. The anatomical findings and outcomes of reconstructive surgery were reviewed.Results
Of a possible 160 reproductive tract units (2 per patient) we thoroughly examined 147 with suspected epididymal obstruction. Epididymal obstruction was found in 52.7% of the cases with other anatomical abnormalities accounting for the remaining 47.3%. Of the patients 49 (61%) had sperm identified in the epididymis on at least 1 side and underwent vasoepididymostomy, and 3 (4%) had sperm unilaterally in the proximal vas but had ipsilateral distal vasal obstruction. These 3 men underwent crossed vasovasostomy. We were more likely able to perform reconstruction in men whose obstruction was due to an infectious etiology (13 of 14, 93%) compared to either a surgical (5 of 7, 71%) or idiopathic (34 of 59, 58%) etiology. In 28 patients (35%) no sperm was identified in the epididymis or they had no other abnormalities that precluded successful reconstruction on either side. Of those patients who underwent vasoepididymostomy for epididymal obstruction 61% had sperm in the ejaculate postoperatively.Conclusions
In nearly half the men with suspected epididymal obstruction other reproductive tract abnormalities were detected, most of which precluded successful vasoepididymostomy. Other reproductive tract abnormalities are much less likely to be found, and the outcomes of reconstruction are better if the cause of the obstruction is infectious compared to surgical or idiopathic.