Fertility-enhancing male reproductive surgery: glimpses into the past and thoughts for the future

Recent advancements and new developments in fertility-enhancing male reproductive surgery is reviewed for the treatment of four diseases: varicocele, obstruction of the excurrent ductal system, ejaculatory duct obstruction, and nonobstructive azoospermia.

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Volume 112, Issue 3, Pages 426–437


Joshua A. Halpern, M.D., Robert E. Brannigan, M.D., Peter N. Schlegel, M.D.


Over the past few decades, there have been numerous paradigm shifts in male reproductive surgery, resulting from a combination of technologic advancements in both the operating room and the laboratory. The operating microscope transformed the field of male reproductive surgery, enabling novel techniques and higher precision for the treatment of male-factor subfertility. The subsequent widespread adoption of microsurgical approaches was largely responsible for the emergence of a cadre of highly specialized male infertility microsurgeons. The advent and evolution of in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection was a concurrent story that further revolutionized the field. The ability to achieve fertilization and pregnancy with just a single sperm changed the ways in which male reproductive surgeons could approach a wide range of pathologies from obstructive to nonobstructive causes, culminating in the microdissection testicular sperm extraction procedure for the treatment of nonobstructive azoospermia. Here we review the recent advancements in fertility-enhancing male reproductive surgery for the treatment of four disease processes: varicocele, obstruction of the excurrent ductal system, ejaculatory duct obstruction, and nonobstructive azoospermia. While examining the great strides of the past, we look forward to exciting developments on the horizon.

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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.