The following information is taken from the National Post, Wednesday, October 09, 2002.
New procedure takes pain out of vasectomies
Doctor abandons needle, scalpel for painless spray
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
A new advance in the vasectomy procedure being offered in Canada eliminates the final remaining barrier for men concerned about the surgery: the needle that applies the anesthetic.
Dr. Neil Pollock, a surgeon in Vancouver, ended the need for a scalpel with new medical advances more than two years ago and now he is among the first in North America to no longer require a needle for the procedure.
He began using the new technique -- "No Needle Anesthesia" is accomplished by applying a pressurized jet spray to numb the area through a pen-like device -- last week. It is so new less than four other physicians have begun using it.
"There have been two main reasons that men have had huge fears about vasectomies," said Dr. Pollock, who runs four clinics and is considered a prominent expert on vasectomies.
"This is just going to take away that remaining kind of intimidation that guys have about vasectomy. When they find out there's no scalpel and now there is no needle, this can be an option for them."
Dr. Pollock said the new method is more effective and uses about 1/50th of the anesthetic required for vasectomies conducted with needles. In the latest technique, a jet injector delivers a hypospray of Xylocaine under pressure instantly.
Dr. Pollock will introduce the new technique to delegates attending a national family medicine conference in Montreal in November.
"We're always working to improve the quality of medical care," said Dr. Pollock. "And each additional alteration we can make to a standard technique that might reduce risk and anxiety to the patient is important. And it improves the quality of care.
"Vasectomy is an excellent safe and effective form of birth control," he added.
Sterilization for contraceptive purposes has recently become more common for men, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
By 1995 approximately 1.8 million men had undergone contraceptive sterilization compared with 1.5 million woman.
A Statistics Canada publication that examined trends in sterilization reported that almost half of all couples of childbearing age are sterile.
"These figures reveal significant changes in attitudes and behaviour over the last few decades," the report concludes.
"The most striking feature of the trend in contraception during the 1984 to 1995 period was, without doubt, the steady increase in the proportion of vasectomies and a corresponding decrease in tubal ligations."
Last year, Dr. Pollock received approval from Health Canada to conduct the first human clinical trials of a reversible male contraceptive implant, a device believed to be as effective as vasectomies for men or birth control pills for women.
He will present the results at the November conference.
Next, he will ask Health Canada to permit another round of more complicated clinical trials for the male reversible implants.
In the 1998 Canadian Contraception Study, which surveyed 1,599 women across Canada and was published in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, two-thirds of females polled thought highly of sterilization as a birth control method.
Among married women, 24% of their male partners had been sterilized. Among unmarried women, 1% of partners had undergone a vasectomy.