Some men may develop a varicose vein (commonly known as a varicocele) of the testicle and scrotum, which may cause pain and lead to testicular atrophy (shrinkage of the testicles).
A minimally invasive procedure known as Varicoceles Embolisation is used to treat abnormal enlargement of the veins.
When Is This Procedure Conducted?
A Varicoceles Embolisation is a non-surgical treatment but is as effective as surgery.
The procedure is recommended as an alternative option to surgery as it has less risk, less pain and less recovery time.
How Does This Procedure Work?
The Interventional radiologist uses catheters and other instruments to shut off blood flow to the dysfunctional vein. Throughout this treatment, you will be relaxed and experience no pain.
Specifically, the interventional radiologist makes a tiny nick in the skin, through which a thin catheter (much like a piece of spaghetti) is passed directly to the testicular vein. The doctor then injects contrast dye to provide direct visualisation of the veins to map out exactly where the problem is and where to embolise, or block, the vein.
By using coils or sclerosants (medicine injected into blood vessels to make them shrink), an interventional radiologist blocks the abnormal veins, which reduces pressure on the varicocele. By embolising the vein, blood flow is redirected through other pathways. Essentially blood flow to the incompetent vein is “shut off” internally, accomplishing what the urologist does, however without surgery.
How Will I Feel After The Procedure?
After the procedure, you should be able to resume your normal activities within 24 hours. However, it is recommended that you do not lift any heavy objects for at least 2-3 days.
In minor cases, there may be slight bruising or low back pain, but this is uncommon.
How Successful Is Varicoceles Embolisation?
Varicoceles Embolisation is a highly effective procedure, however in approximately 5% of patients who undergo Varicocelse Embolisation, the varicoceles return. This rate of varicocele recurrence is similar to the rate reported for more invasive surgical procedures.
In less than 5% of patients who undergo Varicoceles Embolisation, the Interventional radiologist will not be able to position the catheter adequately to allow blocking of the diseased draining vein.
Summary of Benefits of Varicoceles Embolisation
- No surgical incision in scrotal area
- As effective as surgery
- Patients can return to normal daily activities within 24 hours and without hospital admittance
- The rare patient who has varicoceles on both sides can have them fixed simultaneously through one vein puncture site; surgery on both sides requires two separate open incisions
- No general anaesthetic required
- No sutures
Learn more about the treatment at http://www.sirweb.org/patients/varicoceles/