A varicocele is an abnormal enlargement of the spermatic vein within the scrotum. This can result from poor valve function, causing a build up of blood as it struggles to travel through the failing scrotal veins. Varicoceles present in a similar way to a more commonly known condition called varicose veins, which occur in the legs.
Currently, doctors are unsure of the exact risk factors that contribute to the development of varicoceles. Men of any age can experience varicoceles, and they have been shown to occur as early as puberty. Men who are overweight or obese could be at a higher risk of suffering from varicoceles, but there have not been enough studies to say this conclusively. There is a higher likelihood of varicocele forming on the left scrotum but can occasionally occur on both sides.
While varicoceles commonly have no symptoms at all, in some cases patients will experience varying levels of pain. This pain may range from a dull ache to a sharp stabbing, and increase with physical exertion, prolonged standing or sitting. The pain may be relieved by lying on your back, or grow worse as the day progresses.
If varicoceles grow to a certain size, they may become physically noticeable. This could result in a swollen testicle, generally presenting on the left side. Varicoceles can also sometimes cause impaired fertility, especially as they grow larger. A varicocele with increased blood pooling in the scrotum can increase the temperature of the testicle impairing sperm production.
Standard treatment by urologists is a surgery called a varicocelectomy in which the scrotum is opened and the abnormal veins are cut out and/or ligated.
Varicocele embolization is a non-surgical vascular treatment performed by interventional radiologists designed to safely reduce and eliminate varicoceles. Varicocele embolization has been performed since the 1970s and gradually refined and improved over time.
Varicocele embolization is a non-surgical vascular treatment designed to safely reduce and eliminate varicoceles. It accomplishes this by closing off the blood supply to the faulty spermatic vein, causing the varicocele to shrink. After a short time, the vein will cease to function, and the patient will be free of all associated symptoms.