I win at the internet. Sort’ve.
Post-vasectomy pain syndrome has had this “1 in 1000” patient number floating around for a while, and I’ve never been able to track down where it came from until the last couple of months. Turns out – that numbers is bunk.
After a series of 35 emails back and forth with Elsevier, the publisher of Campbell Walsh Urology – I can confirm now that the 11th edition will include dramatically higher risks for incurring post-vasectomy pain syndrome.
The 10th edition has this to say on the topic:
Up to 30% of men have short-term scrotal pain lasting a few weeks. However, postvasectomy pain syndrome, or long- term scrotal pain after vasectomy, occurs in approximately one in 1000 vasectomies, although some report the incidence to be as high as 15% (McConaghy et al, 1996; Awsare et al, 2005; Tandon and Sabanegh, 2008).
If you take the time to go through those citations, no such claim is actually made.
Following a study by McMahon et al. which found that 33% of patients were troubled with chronic testicular discomfort following vasectomy , a study was undertaken at our hospital to examine ways of reducing the incidence of this problem. This work has been published recently  and we would like to draw your readers’ attention to the relevant findings.
This may result from congestive epididymitis or the development of sperm granuloma. The incidence of chronic orchalgia is quite high (12–52%).  The proportion of patients, however, whose quality of life was affected, or those who sought treatment was much lower (2.2–15%)
PVPS is disappointingly common and difficult to treat. Although early pain lasting for a few weeks is fairly common after vasectomy (present in up to 30% of men), longterm pain requiring some kind of intervention or surgical therapy occurs in up to one in 1000 vasectomized men .
Sandlow JI, Winfield HN, Goldstein M. Surgery of the scrotum and seminal vesicles. In Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, Partin AW eds, Campbell-Walsh Urology, 9th edn. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 2006: 1103–9
So what we have is Campbell Walsh citing a paper which cites Campbell Walsh.
There’s never been any evidence that supported the claim of 1 in 1000 number.
So that’s the good news. That number is going away.
I’m told by the reviewers in Elsevier that they will be using Leslie 2007 for most of their new data and they will also be using the AUA guidelines.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to verify this until 2016 because Elsevier can’t seem to figure out how to use the internet to publish errata.
Yes – you will need to wait for the dead tree version of the book to come out.
The irony here is a bit thick even for me.
BJU offers open access to Leslie 2007. After I compiled the trail of papers that made this error possible – I asked to review the draft of the new chapter on vasectomy. That was October 1.
Here’s the response: “..it would be highly inappropriate to provide a draft chapter prior to the text being published.“
Screw you Elsevier.