All That You Need To Know About Varicocele Embolization
Varicocele embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to treat people with varicoceles that cause pain or bothersome scrotal swelling. Embolization, which is performed in the office under local anesthesia, involves threading a tiny tube known as a catheter into the varicocele and delivering an embolic substance (such as ethanol) that blocks abnormal blood flow through the veins in this condition. The varicocele embolization procedure can be performed alone or along with surgery to remove the varicocele altogether.
Varicoceles are enlarged veins on either side of the testes and typically affect males between 14-20 years old; however, they can occur at any time of life. While not a common finding, varicoceles can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as testicular cancer or undescended testicles. In rare cases (less than one percent), kids with enlarged testes may need to be evaluated and treated by a pediatric urologist.
The cause of varicoceles is unclear, but they are believed to be caused by mechanical pressure on the veins. This pressure may cause a blockage of the vein and be associated with pain. An enlarged vein may also experience an increase in pressure in the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles), which could result in swelling, discomfort, or pain. In addition, varicoceles can cause blood clots to form and may affect blood flow through the veins.
After a consultation with a doctor, it is likely that embolization is appropriate if any of these symptoms are experienced. The decision to undergo embolization depends largely on the severity of the symptoms. Some doctors recommend embolization even when no physical symptoms of varicocele are present. Embolization can be used to treat larger varicoceles, which may have a higher chance of producing complications. In addition, embolization should be considered if the patient has a high risk for reproductive problems or testicular cancer.
Studies show that the varicocele embolization technique has several advantages over surgical ligation (clamping and tying off of the varicocele vessel with sutures). First, the pain is decreased after embolization since there is no incision in the inguinal area. Embolization also causes less swelling and leaves no scars.
Furthermore, research shows that complication rates are much lower with embolization than with surgery. The biggest advantage of embolization is its simplicity. The procedure requires only local anesthesia, no incisions, and takes less than 30 minutes. Embolization is also a good option for teenagers and younger adults because they can be comfortable sitting in the doctor’s office and will be back to normal activity much more quickly after treatment. Lastly, this surgery carries few long-term risks or complications.
Any type of embolization or surgery may cause some unwanted potential side effects (in a few patients). The most common side effect of embolization is mil pain post-procedure which is usually self-limiting.
The effectiveness of embolization can be clearly demonstrated. The improvement in pain outcome is beyond question, and the severity of varicocele symptoms is also an area of benefit pertaining to the procedure.
Most men will experience a reduction in scrotal swelling and pain following embolization. In rare cases, complications will occur; however, these are not common. Embolization is a safe treatment option for varicoceles which require surgical ligation for healing. The use of this technique allows for more rapid recovery from surgery and takes less time than the traditional approach to ligation. Visit Dr. Gaurav Gangwani for the best results.