A varicocele is multiple enlarged tortuous veins in a male’s scrotum with pooling of blood. People with varicocele may have pain, swelling or infertility. Approximately 10 percent of all men have varicoceles. They are most prevalent in men ages 15-35. Among infertile couples nearly 30 percent of men have varicoceles.
What is the cause of Varicocele?
(Good Blood Flow in Vein Valve)
(Bad Blood Flow in Vein Valve)
Varicoceles are caused when the one-way valves in the scrotal veins, which allow blood to flow from the testicles and scrotum back to the heart, become damaged and this causes the blood to flow in reverse direction and pool in the scrotal veins forming a varicocele.
What Is Varicocele Embolization?
Varicocele embolization, performed by Interventional Radiologists is a minimally invasive procedure that closes off blood flow to the affected veins causing the varicocele to shrink and disappear.
Varicocele embolization uses imaging guidance and a catheter (long, thin, hollow plastic tube) to place tiny coils and/or a liquid substance in a blood vessel to divert blood flow away from a varicocele. It is less invasive than conventional surgery, can safely relieve pain and swelling, and may improve sperm quality.
How’s the procedure done ?
You will be given a local anesthetic through an injection at the procedure site. A catheter is then inserted through a small nick in the groin and using fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray, image-guided technology, the catheter will be placed through your femoral vein and advanced into the affected testicular vein.
Contrast (a type of dye) is injected to visualize your veins to know exactly where to embolize (block) the varicocele. The veins can be closed by placing small coils and/or sclerosants into your veins which causes them to become occluded. Once this occurs, the vein is blocked the varicocele will no longer be able to live.
What to expect with varicocele embolization ?
Success rates of 90%, similar to surgical techniques
Quicker recovery time; days vs. weeks as compared to open surgery
Reduced risk of infection
Day care procedure
Benefits of Varicocele Embolization
- Requires NO general anesthesia (only local anesthesia)
- Results in NO scarring
- Requires NO overnight stay (same day procedure)
Who Is a Candidate for Varicocele Embolization?
You can opt for varicocele embolization if you are an adult male and have been diagnosed with a varicocele that is causing you testicular pain, discomfort or infertility.
Risks with Varicocele Embolization
No significant risk except Infection for which Antibiotics are given. Also Allergic reaction to dye may occur rarely.
What are the limitations of Varicocele Embolization ?
In approximately five to 10 percent of patients who undergo varicocele embolization, the varicoceles return. This rate of varicocele recurrence is similar to the rate reported for more invasive surgical procedures.