Scalpel versus no-scalpel incision for vasectomy

Cochrane Review by Cook LA, Pun A, Gallo MF, Lopez LM, Van Vliet HAAM

This record should be cited as: Cook LA, Pun A, Gallo MF, Lopez LM, Van Vliet HAAM. Scalpel versus no-scalpel incision for vasectomy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD004112. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004112.pub3.



Scalpel versus no-scalpel incision for vasectomy


Currently, the two most common surgical techniques for approaching the vas during vasectomy are the incisional method and the noscalpel technique. Whereas the conventional incisional technique involves the use of a scalpel to make one or two incisions, the noscalpel technique uses a sharp-pointed, forceps-like instrument to puncture the skin. The no-scalpel technique aims to reduce adverse events, especially bleeding, bruising, hematoma, infection and pain and to shorten the operating time.


The objective of this review was to compare the effectiveness, safety, and acceptability of the incisional versus no-scalpel approach to the vas.

Search strategy

We searched the computerized databases of CENTRAL,MEDLINE, EMBASE, POPLINE and LILACS.We looked for recent clinical trials in and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform. In addition, we searched the reference lists of relevant articles and book chapters.

Selection criteria

Randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials were included in this review. No language restrictions were placed on the reporting of the trials.

Data collection and analysis

We assessed all titles and abstracts located in the literature searches and two authors independently extracted data from the articles identified for inclusion. Outcome measures included safety, acceptability, operating time, contraceptive efficacy, and discontinuation.

Main results

Two randomized controlled trials evaluated the no-scalpel technique and differed in their findings. The larger trial demonstrated less perioperative bleeding (Odds ratio (OR) 0.49; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.27 to 0.89) and pain during surgery (OR 0.75; 95% CI 0.61 to 0.93), scrotal pain (OR 0.63; 95% 0.50 to 0.80), and incisional infection (OR 0.21; 95% CI 0.06 to 0.78) during follow up than the standard incisional group. Both studies found less hematoma with the no-scalpel technique (OR 0.23; 95% CI 0.15 to 0.36). Operations using the no-scalpel approach were faster and had a quicker resumption of sexual activity. The smaller study did not find these differences; however, the study could have failed to detect differences due to a small sample size as well as a high loss to follow up. Neither trial found differences in vasectomy effectiveness between the two approaches to the vas.

Authors' conclusions

The no-scalpel approach to the vas resulted in less bleeding, hematoma, infection, and pain as well as a shorter operation time than the traditional incision technique. No difference in effectiveness was found between the two approaches.