A varicocele is a dilation of the veins of the pampiniform plexus (the veins that drain blood from the testicle). Varicoceles can range in size from barely detectable to very large veins which are visible and typically described as a “bag of worms”. Most varicoceles cause no symptoms and are usually detected during an evaluation for infertility. Occasionally, varicoceles may cause discomfort.
Most patients with a varicocele have no symptoms. You may experience the following symptoms:
There are no known causes of varicoceles. A left varicocele is much more common than a right varicocele. Occasionally, patients may have varicoceles on both sides.
There are no non-surgical treatments for varicoceles.
Varicoceles are either treated by an outpatient surgical procedure (varicocelectomy) or embolization of the varicocele. The surgical varicocele repair involves making a small groin incision and ligating (tying off) the abnormally dilated veins. Embolization of a varicocele involves blocking the blood flow to the abnormally dilated veins internally by inserting metal coils.
Advantages and disadvantages of each procedure can be discussed with your physician.
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