These enlarged, distended veins often cause no symptoms but can be treated if causing significant pain or if they affect fertility. They affect about one in five men.

What are Varicoceles?

A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins that drain blood from the testicle. They might be barely detectable or very large and look like a bag of worms. Other than some discomfort, they usually have no symptoms and are found during an evaluation for infertility.

What are the symptoms of Varicoceles?

Typically, there are no symptoms other than a dull ache in the testicular area, which can be worse after periods of prolonged standing.

What causes Varicoceles?

There are no known causes of varicoceles. While more common on the left side, occasionally, patients may have varicoceles on both sides.

How are Varicoceles diagnosed?

What to know before your visit to Michigan Institute of Urology in Southeast Michigan:

  • If you have had prior testing for a varicocele – like an ultrasound or semen analysis – bring the results to your evaluation.
  • Varicoceles are usually detected by physical examination. An ultrasound of the scrotum may be helpful in confirming the presence of a varicocele. If not yet done, your physician may want a semen analysis to see if the varicocele is affecting your sperm count.

How are Varicoceles treated?

A surgical procedure called a varicocelectomy can be performed by a urologist to reduce the pain in the testicles and improve fertility. Most men recover in about six weeks. During the procedure your physician will cut the veins and seal off the ends. Sealing the ends causes blood to flow into other healthy veins in your scrotum.

A new treatment for varicocele is now available at our Interventional Radiology Center. During the procedure our interventional radiologist inserts a catheter into a tiny incision in the groin area to access the femoral vein. Using an X-ray for guidance, the catheter is guided to the testicular vein, and contrast is injected to map out the problem area so it can be blocked or embolized using coils. Once the vein is blocked, the damaged vein is shut off, and blood flow is redirected to the surrounding, healthier veins.

The whole procedure usually lasts about 30-45 minutes, with a two-hour recovery. Patients can be back to moderate activity within 24-48 hours.

Go to Top