Varicocele Embolization

Varicocele embolization redirects blood away from an enlarged vein in your scrotum. Such an enlarged vein is called a varicocele. It can cause pain, infertility, and swelling. An interventional radiologist uses a coil or special agents to block (embolize) the vein. This can help improve symptoms, relieve pain and swelling, and may improve sperm quality.

When is this procedure recommended?

Varicoceles often don’t have any symptoms. In teens, they may cause slowed growth of the testicles. They may also cause pain and swelling; and they can also lead to infertility. 

How is the procedure performed?

The interventional radiologist will place a needle into the inner thigh to access a major vein and insert the catheter tube into this vein.  X-rays will help move the tube to the correct area within the scrotum. X-ray dye (contrast) may be injected into the vein. This will help provide clearer X-ray images. The interventional radiologist will release a small coil or a special liquid into the affected vein. This is called a blocking agent. It often redirects blood flow into other nearby veins. The blood can then exit the scrotum normally. If successful, the varicocele will go away.  Afterward, the catheter will be removed. A bandage will be placed over the area of entry on your thigh.

What are the benefits?

  • Shorter recovery time with a return to normal activities in less than a week, compared to weeks for open surgery
  • The procedure only involves a small needle stick and no internal cutting, bleeding, or burning
  • 90% success rate and a reduced risk of infection, with no risks to testicular artery and nerve

 

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