A varicocele is an abnormal dilation of the veins draining the testicle. It is the testicular equivalent of what are commonly known as varicose veins which affect the legs.
The condition is common and may affect 15-25% of men and may be an incidental finding whilst investigating other unrelated complaints, or may be the main culprit in explaining a patient's symptoms. They range in severity and may or may not require treatment.
Treatment strategies vary depending on the availability of expertise and patient choice.
Our team are expert in diagnosis, counselling and treatment of patients with this condition.
As far as treatment is concerned, we offer microsurgical treatment options which require an operating microscope which increases the precision in identifying not just the main veins draining the testicle to the abdomen, but also other veins that bypass the main pathway of drainage. These "other" veins are ones that are often not tackled by other treatment methods and may explain the higher success and lower complication rate of the microsurgical technique. The downside of the microsurgical technique is that it is an operation that requires a general anaesthetic (although in most cases it is performed as a daycase procedure) and has an approximately 5% risk of injury to the blood supply to the testicle. In most cases it does not lead to loss of the testicle.
The other treatment option is embolisation. This is a technique performed under local anaesthetic by a radiologist who uses a small incision in the groin to access the venous system to implant some coils where the main testicular vein drains into the abdomen. It's advantage is that it involves a local anaesthetic procedure which has an overall good success rate, and has virtually no risk of injury to the main testicular artery. It's downside is that it has a higher recurrence/failure rate as it does not have the ability to tackle any additional veins that bypass the main routes of drainage of the testicle.
Our team are happy to offer our expertise in diagnosis, counselling and treatment of this condition.