Men’s Health and Infertility

University Radiology’s interventional radiologists offer a specialized, nonsurgical procedure to treat varicoceles — abnormal veins in the testicles and scrotum that are a common cause of fertility problems in men. Valves in the veins that normally drain blood from the testicles can fail. Over time, those poorly functioning valves allow blood to pool in the veins, causing them to grow larger — a painful condition that can decrease sperm count and sperm motility. Traditionally, varicoceles have been treated with a surgical procedure called surgical ligation — a surgeon makes an incision to access the testicular veins and then ties them off with sutures. At University Radiology, we are offering a nonsurgical option called varicocele embolization that has been shown to be just as effective as surgery without any incisions.

Varicocele Embolization

During varicocele embolization, your interventional radiologist will guide a small tube into the testicular vein via a vein in the neck or hip. By using coils and possibly a vein occluding liquid/foam, your radiologist will block the blood flow in the vein, which reduces pressure on the varicocele. Blood flow is naturally re-directed by the body to other healthy pathways. Essentially, the incompetent vein is “shut off” internally by preventing blood flow, accomplishing the same result as surgical ligation — but without surgery.

What are the benefits?
  • No surgical incision in the scrotal area.
  • As effective or more effective than surgery, as measured by improvement in semen analysis and a lower recurrence rate.
  • Less recovery time — patients are able to return to normal daily activities immediately.
How does the procedure work?

After numbing the skin at the neck or hip, your interventional radiologist will make a tiny skin nick, no larger than one-half the width of a fingernail. A catheter is inserted through the skin into a vein in the neck or hip and is directed into a testicular vein under X-ray guidance. Coils and possibly a vein occluding liquid/foam are passed through the catheter to block the blood flow into the faulty vein. The procedure, performed under gentle sedation, takes about an hour and you will return home the same day.
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