WHAT ARE VARICOCELES?
Varicoceles are dilated testicular veins. This is usually due to an abnormality of the valves of the veins draining the testes. If these valves don’t function properly, the veins enlarge and can result in pain or pressure symptoms. There is debate about whether varicoceles are associated with male infertility.
WHAT IS VARICOCELE EMBOLIZATION?
Embolization is a non-surgical method to treat varicoceles using either special metal coils or foam to block the abnormal vein while preserving the normal veins. Embolization is done by a specialized interventional radiologist as a day case procedure. The patient is usually discharged home a few hours after the procedure.
Varicocele embolization is performed via a small cut in either the neck or groin. A catheter is then placed in the testicular veins using x-rays to guide the interventional radiologist. The abnormal veins are then blocked using coils or foam under the guidance of x rays to allow targeted treatment of the abnormal veins.
WHO MAY BENEFIT FROM A VAIROCELE EMBOLIZATION?
A varicocele can cause discomfort in the scrotum, which is often worse when standing or exercising. They are sometimes diagnosed during the investigation of infertility and treatment may help sperm count.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EMBOLIZATION?
- Varicocele embolization is a non-surgical procedure, therefore only a small skin nick is made which doesn’t even need stitches.
- Faster recovery time.
- Bilateral varices can be treated via the same puncture (opposite to surgery which needs separate incisions for each side)
- General anesthesia is not needed and the procedure is done under local anesthesia and sedation.
- There is a 90% success rate with embolization, which are the same results as those achieved with more invasive surgical techniques
ARE THERE ANY RISKS?
- Any procedure that involves the placement of a catheter inside a blood vessel carries certain risks. These risks include damage to the blood vessel, bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, and infection
- There is a very small chance of coil migration during placement , if this happens the migrated coil can usually be retrieved.
- In about 10% of these procedures, the varicocele will return. This rate is similar to that of more invasive surgical procedures.