Varicocele Embolization

A varicocele is a varicose vein of the testicle and scrotum. This varicose vein can cause testicle and scrotum pain. It can also cause testicular atrophy (shrinkage) or fertility problems.

Veins contain one-way valves that work to allow blood to flow from the testicles and scrotum back to the heart. When these valves fail, the blood pools and enlarges the veins around the testicle in the scrotum, causing a varicocele.

Varicocele embolization, a nonsurgical treatment performed by an interventional radiologist, is as effective as surgery in treating varicoceles with less risk, less pain and less recovery time than surgical procedures. Patients considering surgical treatment should also get a second opinion from an interventional radiologist to ensure they know all of their treatment options.

Prevalence

  • Approximately 10% of all men have varicoceles, but among infertile couples, the incidence of varicoceles increases to 30%.
  • The highest occurrence is in men ages 15–35.
  • As many as 70,000–80,000 men in America undergo surgical varicocele correction annually.

Symptoms

  • Pain—Aching pain when an individual has been standing or sitting for long periods of time and pressure builds up in the affected veins. Typically, painful varicoceles are prominent in size.
  • Infertility—Decreased sperm count, decreased motility of sperm and an increase in the number of deformed sperm are related to varicoceles.
  • Testicular Atrophy—Shrinking of the testicles is another sign of varicoceles. Often, once the testicle is repaired it will return to normal size.

Varicocele Diagnosis
Diagnosis is fairly simple through either physical or diagnostic examination:

  • Typically on left side of scrotum.
  • Visual physical exam shows scrotum looks like a “bag of worms.”
  • Testicle has shrunk in size—atrophied.
  • When varicoceles are not clearly present, the abnormal blood flow can often be detected with a noninvasive imaging exam called color flow ultrasound or through a venogram—an X-ray in which a special dye is injected into the veins to “highlight” blood vessel abnormalities.

What to Expect
Prior to appointments, Gwinnett Medical Center patients are asked to come in for routine lab work. It is preferred that patients have their lab work performed at Gwinnett Medical Center so the radiology nurses have access to the results. Our radiology nurses call each patient shortly after the procedure is scheduled to obtain a health history and provide instructions.

For most interventional radiology exams, patients need to arrive in admissions two hours before their scheduled procedure time on the day of the exam. Patients will check in at admissions before being taken to the Imaging Nursing Unit, where an interventional radiologist will come to talk with the patient before the procedure. The patient will then be prepped for the exam and taken to the Interventional Radiology Suite for the procedure. Following the procedure, the patient will return to the Imaging Nursing Unit for recovery. The recovery time varies based on the procedure. After the patient is then discharged, he or she will receive a follow-up call the next day.

Call 678-312-3444 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Lawrenceville, Duluth or Hamilton Mill.