Vasectomy under local anaesthesia performed free of charge as a family planning service : complications and results
The original publication is available at http://www.samj.org.za
Objective. To evaluate the safety and efficacy of vasectomy performed under local anaesthesia by junior doctors at a secondary level hospital as part of a free family planning service. Method. Men requesting vasectomy were counselled and given written instructions to use alternative contraception until two semen analyses 3 and 4 months after vasectomy had confirmed azoospermia. Bilateral vasectomy was performed as an outpatient procedure under local anaesthesia by junior urology registrars. Statistical analysis was performed using the Mann-Whitney, Kruskal-Wallis, Fisher's exact or Spearman's rank correlation tests as appropriate. Results. Between January 2004 and December 2005, 479 men underwent vasectomy at Karl Bremer Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa; their average age was 36.1 (range 21 - 66) years, they had a median of 2 (range 0 - 10) children, and only 19% had 4 or more children. The average operation time was 15.5 (range 5 - 53) minutes. Complications occurred in 12.9%; these were pain (7.3%), swelling (5.4%), haematoma (1.3%), sepsis (1%), difficulty locating the vas (1%), vasovagal episode (0.6%), bleeding (0.6%), wound rupture (0.4%) and dysuria (0.2%) (some men had more than one complication). Of the men 63.3% returned for one semen analysis and 17.5% for a second. The vasectomy failure rate ranged from 0.4% (sperm persisting >365 days after vasectomy) to 2.3% (sperm seen >180 days after vasectomy and/or in the second semen specimen). No pregnancies were reported. The complication (5.6%) and failure rates (0%) were lowest for the registrar who had performed the smallest number of vasectomies and whose average operation time was longest. Comparing the first one-third of procedures performed by each of the doctors with the last one-third, there was a significant decrease in average operating times but not in complication rates. Conclusions. Vasectomy can be performed safely and effectively by junior doctors as an outpatient procedure under local anaesthesia, and should be actively promoted in South Africa as a safe and effective form of male contraception.