To determine whether there are any deleterious changes in the human testis after vasectomy, we obtained testicular biopsy specimens from 31 healthy men undergoing vasectomy reversal and from 21 healthy, fertile volunteers. Morphometric analyses of these specimens revealed a 100 per cent increase in the thickness of the seminiferous tubular walls (P<0.001), a 50 per cent increase in the mean cross-sectional tubular area (P<0.001), and a significant reduction in the mean number of Sertoli cells (P<0.01) and spermatids (P<0.01 ) per tubular cross section in the post-vasectomy group, as compared with the control group. Focal interstitial fibrosis was observed in 23 per cent of the specimens from the post-vasectomy group and in none from the control group. There was a significant correlation (P<0.01) between interstitial fibrosis and infertility in patients who underwent a surgically successful vasectomy reversal (sperm in the ejaculate). None of the other measured characteristics correlated with infertility after vasectomy reversal. We conclude that significant morphologic changes occur in the human testis after vasectomy. The presence of focal interstitial fibrosis was associated with a high incidence of infertility in this series. (N Engl J Med 1985; 313:1252–6).
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