What Is A Varicocele?
A Varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of the veins that drain the testis.
What Causes A Varicocele?
- The most common cause is when the valves in the veins do not work properly. As a result there is a backflow of blood into the veins, increasing pressures in the vein causing it to enlarge abnormally.
- Other less common causes include kidney cancer.
- Majority of varicoceles occur on the left hand side.
- Enlarged veins around testis that are easily visible
- Pain within the scrotum
- Shrinking of the testis
- Male infertility. Varicoceles are one of the main reasons for male infertility.
Ultrasound of the scrotum will accurately show the presence of a varicocele.
This is a minimally invasive procedure where a radiology specialist passes a small flexible catheter into the abdominal vein that drains the testis. Once the catheter is in place the vein is obstructed so that the increased pressure from the abdomen is not transmitted to the testis. The blood from the testis drains via smaller surrounding veins.
Surgical treatment options include laparoscopic ligation, open repair and microsurgical repair. Once the varicocele is treated the man’s fertility does improve.