a minimally invasive treatment option for varicoceles
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What is a varicocele, and what causes it?
A varicocele is made up of dilated blood vessels (varicose veins) in the scrotum. It is a common condition affecting up to 20% of all men, especially those in their 20s and 30s.
Varicoceles are the result of one or more faulty valves within the veins in the scrotum. This causes blood to flow in reverse and “pool” within the veins. The veins then become enlarged, forming a varicocele.
Interestingly, most men with a varicocele do not experience any symptoms. However, as many as 40% of men with decreased fertility have a varicocele. It is thought that the additional blood raises the temperature in the testicle, which negatively affects sperm count and quality.
What is Varicocele Embolization?
Varicocele embolization is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure to treat varicoeles. It is highly effective, requires no hospital stay, and you can return to normal activities within 2-3 days. It is an excellent alternative to open surgery, and, as varicose veins may return over time, it is safe to repeat even if the patient has had surgery in the past. Additionally, having this procedure does not preclude you from having surgery in the future if necessary.
Varicocele embolization is performed by an interventional radiologist using a tiny catheter inserted into an artery in the upper thigh or wrist. Using imaging guidance, the catheter is directed through the body’s blood vessels to the veins within the testicle. Tiny coils are inserted into the vein to block the flow of blood, which causes the vein to shrink and eventually disappear. Blood is then routed by the body to other healthy veins in the testicle.
The procedure is FDA approved and 90% successful. You can resume sexual activity the day after the procedure, but it may take 3-6 months for sperm count to improve.
How do I know if I am a good candidate?
Varicocele Embolization is recommended for patients who have an enlarged varicocele and one or more of the following:
• Are experiencing a dull ache or pain, especially when standing
• Do not want to experience infertility issues
• Have experienced shrinking of one or both testicles
• Do not wish to have surgery to treat a varicocele
If you have been diagnosed with a varicocele, talk with your doctor and discuss a referral to the Vascular & Interventional Specialists. If you would like to learn more, contact us by clicking on the Request a Consultation below or giving us a call at 817.321.0951. We would love to connect with you and discuss how we might be able to care for you.