What are varicoceles?

Varicoceles are abnormal enlargements of the veins in the scrotum. It is commonly found in adolescent boys in puberty, and occurs mostly around the left testicle, but can also occur on both sides.

What are the symptoms of varicoceles?

Varicoceles are generally harmless and don’t cause any pain; however some boys may complain of heaviness in the scrotum, and when left untreated, the condition may cause stunted growth of the affected testes and infertility in adulthood.

How is varicocele diagnosed?

The condition is often detected during a routine physical examination.

How is varicocele treated?

Varicocele treatment may not be necessary. However, if your varicocele causes pain, stented testicle development or infertility you may want to undergo varicocele repair.

Repair methods include:

  • Percutaneous embolization: A radiologist inserts a tube into a vein in your groin through which instruments can be passed. Viewing your enlarged veins on a monitor, the doctor releases coils or a solution that causes scarring to create a blockage in the testicular veins, which interrupts the blood flow and prevents pooling of blood in the veins.
  • Keyhole surgery: Your surgeon makes several small incision in your abdomen and passes a tiny instrument through the incision to see and to repair the varicocele by clipping off the veins with metal clips at the level of the inguinal canal opening.
  • Open surgery: During the procedure, the affected vein is tied off to redirect blood flow to neighbouring normal veins. As with all surgeries, complications may occur such as varicocele recurrence, infection, blood clot formation and injury to the scrotal tissue.

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