A varicocele is a common condition that is characterized by scrotal vein enlargement. It usually affects the left testicle, but it can also affect the right testicle or both. Varicoceles usually form during puberty and develop over time.
A varicocele usually has no symptoms. It is strongly linked to infertility issues. This condition is known to reduce sperm quality and may result in infertility and other testicular function issues. Possible signs and symptoms may include:
- A mass in the scrotum.
- Differently sized testicles.
Tests and Treatment
Some common diagnostic tests include:
- A scrotal ultrasound test:
- Varicoceles, veins larger than 3 millimetres in diameter with blood flowing in the wrong direction during the Valsalva maneuver can be determined.
The purpose of surgery is to seal off the affected vein to redirect the blood flow into healthy veins. This is possible because two other artery-and-vein systems supply blood circulation to and from the scrotum.Two approaches are commonly used today. The procedures include:
- Microscopic varicocelectomy. The surgeon makes a tiny incision low in the groin. Several small veins are identified and ligated by the surgeon using a powerful microscope.
- Laparoscopic varicocelectomy. The procedure is carried out by the surgeon using a video camera and surgical tools attached to tubes that pass through a few very small incisions in the lower abdomen. There are fewer veins to ligate because the vein network above the groin is less complex.
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