Male infertility caused by a varicose vein of the testicle and scrotum – called varicoceles – is a very common occurrence, affecting approximately 10 percent of all men.
The varicose vein – very similar to those located on legs – happens when the vein valve fails and blood pools, enlarging the veins around the testicle and causing a varicocele. When this condition occurs, not only does it cause infertility, but it may also cause pain and testicular atrophy.
Scrotal pain caused by varicoceles varies from person to person. The pain is generally mild to moderate, and has been described as dull, congestive‚ “toothache” like. The pain worsens with long periods of sitting, standing or physical activity, especially for long periods of time.The pain is typically relieved by lying down.
With time, varicoceles may enlarge and become more noticeable. In young men, the presence of a varicocele impairs sperm production and can often be improved with treatment.
The preferred method of treatment is the nonsurgical, minimally invasive Varicocele Embolization procedure. Dr. Gropper performs this procedure in our state-of-the-art cath lab by inserting a thin catheter into a tiny incision in the groin area. Using fluoroscopic imaging that converts x-rays into real-time video images, Dr. Gropper then guides the catheter through the femoral vein, directly to the testicular vein where he then injects contrast dye in order to map out the problem area so he can embolize – or “block” – the vein using coils or particles.
Once the vein in blocked, the damaged vein is shut off and the blood flow is redirected to the surrounding, healthier veins. Pressure is eased on the varicocele, restoring normal function and eliminating pain. The patient is sent home shortly after the procedure and is back to normal activities the next day.