The Interventional Radiologists at MRA specialize in the treatment a broad spectrum of venous diseases, including varicocele.
What is a varicocele?
Varicocele is the abnormal enlargement of veins in the scrotum. Approximately 15-20% of men have varicocele, and in many cases they do not cause symptoms. But for some they can cause a dull or aching pain which worsens with prolonged standing or heavy lifting. They can also cause testicular shrinking or infertility, and are found in 40% of men who are infertile. Varicocele can be found on a physical exam, but the diagnosis is usually confirmed with ultrasound.
If asymptomatic, treatment is not necessary. In symptomatic men varicocele embolization is very effective (90%) at reducing pain and/or improving sperm count. With embolization, a catheter (thin, plastic tube) is inserted into the vein through a tiny nick in the skin of the neck or groin. It is advanced to the abnormal veins arising from the scrotum, using x-ray guidance. These veins are then permanently closed using a variety of materials, such as tiny coils or a sclerosing material which irritates the vein wall. Blood is then re-routed to normal healthy veins elsewhere in the body.
Most patients go home the same day and return to normal activities within 3 days. Studies have shown that embolization is equally effective to surgery. Meanwhile, surgical treatment requires an incision and entails a longer recovery time than embolization. Occasionally, varicocele can come back after treatment, requiring a repeat procedure. If surgery was performed previously, embolization is still an option, and vice versa.
The procedure is performed using local anesthesia to numb the skin, as well as IV (intravenous) sedation, which results in a state of relaxation. You will be able to communicate and breathe on your own, but may sleep through most of the procedure and may not remember much.
Yes, the procedure is typically covered by insurance. Your out-of-pocket expense will depend on your specific insurance plan.
Request a consultation today:
Our interventional radiologists are experts in the diagnosis and management of venous interventions. They will personally review your case with you, and discuss whether an intervention is the right option for you.
Patients, please note that services may require a referral from your primary care or another provider, but we can help facilitate that process if treatment is deemed necessary. Telehealth consultations may be available depending on the type of procedure required.