A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins within the scotum similar to a varicose vein that can occur in your leg. A varicocele may cause pain, testicular atrophy (shrinkage), or fertility problems. It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of all men have varicoceles - among infertile couples, the incidence of varicoceles increases to 30 percent. Varicoceles develop in the same way that varicose veins develop; veins contain one-way valves that work to allow blood to flow from the testicles and scrotum back to the heart. When these valves fail, the blood pools and enlarges the veins around the testicle in the scrotum to cause a varicocele.
Pain - Aching pain when an individual has been standing or sitting for long periods of time and pressure builds up on the affected veins.
Fertility Problems - Although most men with varicoceles are able to father children, there is an association between varicoceles and infertility. Decreased sperm count, decreased motility of sperm, and an increase in the number of deformed sperm are also related to varicoceles.
Testicular Atrophy - Shrinking of the testicles is another sign of varicoceles. Often, once the testicle is repaired it will return to normal size.
Mountain Medical Physician Specialists of Utah can make a diagnosis through either physical and/or diagnostic examinations, including the following indicators:
Typical on left side of scrotum
Visual physical exam - scrotum looks like a "bag of worms"
Testicle can shrink in size
When varicoceles are not clearly present, the abnormal blood flow can often be detected with a noninvasive imaging exam called color flow ultrasound or through a venogram - an X-ray in which a special dye is injected into the veins to "highlight" blood vessel abnormalities
VARICOCELE TREATMENT OPTIONS: Currently there are two treatment options for men with varicoceles: Catheter-directed embolization (varicocele embolization), or surgical ligation, Mountain Medical of Utah offers Catheter-directed embolization.
The first option called, Catheter directed embolization, is a non-surgical, outpatient treatment performed by an interventional radiologist using imaging to guide catheters or other instruments inside the body. The physician then injects contrast dye to provide direct visualization of the veins to map out exactly where the problem is and where to embolize, or block, the vein. By embolizing the vein, blood flow is re-directed to other healthy pathways. Through mild IV sedation and local anesthesia, patients are relaxed and pain-free during the approximately two-hour procedure.
The second option called Surgical Ligation. After the patient receives anesthesia, an incision is made in the skin above the scrotum, cutting down to the testicular veins, and tying them off with sutures. Although patients leave the hospital the same day, there is a two to three week recovery period.
For questions or to schedule call: (801) 281-7777 Murray (801) 394-6677 Ogden.