What is varicocele embolisation?
Varicocele embolisation is a minimally invasive procedure which is used to treat abnormal enlargement of the veins which drain the testicles, which are known as varicoceles. The procedure works by blocking the blood flow to the enlarged vein, which reduces pressure on the varicoceles.
How does the procedure work?
The interventional radiologist will usually insert a 2-3 mm catheter (tube) into a blood vessel in your groin and will then guide the catheter under image guidance to the affected blood vessel. This will be followed by the interventional radiologist delivering glue or coils (small metal spirals) to the enlarged vessels, although in some cases a direct injection of alcohol can be used, known as sclerotherapy. This will relieve your symptoms by blocking the blood vessel and reducing blood flow.
Why perform it?
If you have a varicocele, it is recommended that you seek treatment when you experience clinical symptoms such as pain in your scrotum, a feeling of heaviness in your testicle, you can see or feel the enlarged veins within your scrotum, or you experience infertility as a consequence of the varicocele.
What are the risks?
Minor risks include bruising in the groin. More significant risks include the possibility that the glue or coils may move to other areas of the body and block other artery branches.
1. Urbano J, Cabrera M, Alonso-Burgos A. Sclerosis and varicocele embolization with N-butyl cyanoacrylate: experience in 41 patients. Acta Radiol. 2013 Jul 25.
2. Iaccarino V, Venetucci P. Interventional radiology of male varicocele: current status. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2012 Dec; 35(6):1263-80.