A varicocele is a dilation of veins surrounding the testicle. It is a common condition that affects between 15-20 percent of the male population. Varicoceles usually occur on the left side and may be bilateral (on both side) in 30% of patients. Right-sided varicoceles are rare and should be evaluated promptly. Varicocele repair is a minimally invasive procedure that is routinely performed by urologists.
The varicocele repair, called a varicocelectomy, can be performed as an outpatient procedure and most men can return to work within a few days. Different techniques have been used to repair varicoceles. Some methods involve surgery through a groin incision while others use a laparoscopic approach.
With an infertile couple, the goal of a varicocele repair is to improve semen parameters. Research has shown that after a varicocele repair, a couple’s chances of a pregnancy can be increased by more than 3 times and sperm parameters also improve significantly.
The other significant potential benefit of a varicocele repair is that it can help a man with his testosterone level. The testosterone level is important with respect to a man’s energy level, sex drive, and erection function.
Treatment for varicoceles consists of ligation/interruption of the enlarged veins as an outpatient surgical procedure. This can be done laparoscopically (laparoscopic varicocelectomy) in certain individuals. Other techniques for vein ligation involve the use of an operating microscope and a tiny incision in the scrotum.
Laparoscopic varicocele repair
Urology Austin surgeons commonly perform laparoscopic varicocele repair. This procedure is performed in a surgery center while the patient is under general anesthesia. The surgery will follow these steps:
- Several small incisions will be made in the patient’s lower abdominal area.
- A small scope will be inserted through an incision. This scope includes a camera that will send internal pictures to a computer screen for the surgeon.
- During surgery, the abdomen will be filled with a gas to stretch the space that allows the surgeon more room to work, and better visibility.
- Small surgical tools will be inserted into other incisions to allow the surgeon to cut out swollen veins. Once removed, the ends of veins will either be cauterized or sealed with clips.
- When the surgery is complete, the incisions will be closed with staples or stitches.
Following the varicocelectomy
After the surgery, patients will be advised by their surgeon what steps they can take to help with the healing process, and to relieve discomfort. They will also be advised of their restrictions. Typically, restrictions will apply to physical activity, lifting heavy objects, sexual relations, and bathing.
Any time a lump is discovered in a testicle, it should be evaluated immediately. There are several urologic conditions that may cause a lump or swelling that can be treated after proper diagnosis. In most cases, these are benign conditions that, once treated, may no longer be of concern. However, it is important that the condition is assessed to rule out more serious conditions. If you have discovered a lump in a testicle, contact Urology Austin to schedule an appointment.