No Scalpel Vasectomy
Vasectomy is one of the safest and most effective forms of permanent birth control. Approximately 500,000 men undergo this procedure annually in the United States; over 30 million couples worldwide rely on this contraceptive method.
A less invasive technique was developed in China, in 1974. This procedure is known as the No scalpel vasectomy (NSV).
Although vasectomy is considered a simple out patient procedure, Dr. Potts appreciates the significance of this step as a life-changing event in a man's or couple's life. She also understood the apprehension men experienced from the procedure itself. Thus, she felt compelled to learn NSV. In 1995, Dr. Potts received training from Dr Li (from China) and Dr Goldstein (of Cornell Medical Center), both of whom participated in this technique's introduction to the US.
The technique involves a specialized means to anesthetize the spermatic cord, careful palpation to isolate the vas deferens, and specially designed instruments, which hold the vas deferens beneath the scrotal skin and facilitate the retrieval of the vas deferens through a very small puncture. The NSV is associated with less discomfort, 10 times fewer complications, no suture or suture removal and quicker recovery.
Among men who have undergone vasectomy, it is estimated that 6-10% seek vasectomy reversal. For this reason, during her tenure at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Potts led a study to characterize these patients in order to provide improved screening and counseling to patients. The findings of this study, published in the Journal of Urology, found younger age and a lower number of offspring to be important "risk" factors for subsequent vasectomy "regret," along with remarriage after divorce. Additional parameters were studied, analyzing alternative methods to vasectomy reversal surgeries. For example, cryopreservation of sperm along with subsequent intrauterine insemination techniques was shown to be as successful as vasectomy reversal performed a median 10 years after vasectomy; the former method was also shown to be more economical. (Potts, et al. J Urol, 1999) The presentation of this work at several international conferences included the recommendation for improved pre-vasectomy counseling, especially among younger patients.
From 1994 to 2008, Dr Potts developed a very busy vasectomy practice at the Cleveland Clinic. She is now in private practice, in Palo Alto, California, where she will continue to provide specialized and compassionate care to men seeking permanent contraception.