What is a Varicocele?
A varicocele is a swollen vein within the scrotum that usually do not cause symptoms or problems. The vein becomes enlarged as a result of poorly functioning valves inside the vein or because of compression of a vein. It is more common for a varicocele to develop on the left side of the scrotum.
Symptoms of a Varicocele
Varicoceles develop during puberty, but can grow over time which causes symptoms to become more noticeable. Symptoms from a varicocele can include pain that:
- Can be dull or sharp
- Increases with standing or physical activity
- Or worsens throughout the day.
Other complications of varicoceles include low sperm production and decreased sperm quality. It can also cause the testicles to not fully develop or shrink (testicular atrophy).
How to Diagnose a Varicocele
Your doctor may be able to tell that you have a varicocele by conducting a physical exam and feeling for abnormal enlargement of the veins in the scrotum. A scrotal ultrasound may be needed to capture images of the structures inside your body.
Treatment for a Varicocele
Unless you’re experiencing pain, testicular atrophy, or problems with infertility, treating a varicocele may not be necessary. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor about your varicocele treatment options. Open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and varicocele embolization are the most common treatment options available in Houston.
Varicocele embolization is a minimally invasive image-guided procedure that delivers material to to block the blood flow to the swollen vein. A very small incision is made in the groin or the neck and a catheter is guided to the site of the varicocele. Coils or other materials are inserted in the enlarged vein to block blood flow and divert it to healthy veins.
The success rates for surgery and varicocele embolization are comparable, but the recovery time after varicocele embolization is much shorter. Most patients can go home the same day of the procedure and resume normal activities within 24 hours.
Varicocele Repair Surgery
During surgery, the varicocele is commonly repaired through an incision in the abdomen or below the groin, or through the vein in your groin. Pain is generally mild, but you may need pain medication for a limited time after surgery.
To find out if you are a candidate for varicocele embolization, schedule an appointment with Texas Endovascular today.