Varicocele is painless swelling of blood vessels in the scrotum. The scrotum is the pouch that contains the testes in males.
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Most blood normally flows out of the scrotum through a main vein. A faulty valve in this vein causes blood to back up into the scrotum and lead to varicocele.
Varicoceles typically develop in males 15-25 years old.
You will be able to see or feel a varicocele. It is an enlarged or twisted vein in the scrotum. It may become larger when standing or straining. You may also see shrinkage of the testicles.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor can make the diagnosis based on the physical exam.
may be done if complications are expected.
Treatment is not required in all cases.
Treatment may be done to block off the faulty vein and allow blood to flow out through other veins. Open surgery—The vein is surgically cut and tied off.Catheter ablation—Heat is applied through a catheter to destroy the vein.Catheter embolization—A substance is placed in the vein to block it.
There are no current guidelines to prevent varicoceles.
Tekgul S, Riedmiller H, et al. Varicocele in children and adolescents. Guidelines on paediatric urology.
European Association of Urology. 2009;23-25.
Varicocele. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 10, 2013. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Varicocele. Nemours Kid's Health website. Available at:
http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/guys/varicocele.html. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Varicoceles. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=116. Accessed June 24, 2013.
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Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, Elsevier; 2007.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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