Embolization for Varicoceles
Open surgical ligation, performed by an urologist, is common treatment for symptomatic varicoceles. However, varicocele embolization, a nonsurgical treatment, is as effective as surgery and has added benefits. Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure performed under image guidance and involves less risk, less pain and less recovery time.
Varicocele embolization is a nonsurgical treatment that is highly effective. With this nonsurgical treatment, you can expect to change into a hospital gown and lie on an x-ray table. An IV (intravenous) line is started to give you fluids and medications. You may be given medication to help you relax. The skin at the insertion site is numbed with medication. You may be given antibiotic through the intravenous line.
A very small incision is made over the insertion site. Then, a needle with a thin guide wire is inserted through the skin into the vein. A catheter (thin, flexible tube) is placed over the guide wire into the blood vessel. Contrast medium is injected into the blood vessel, which helps the veins show clearly on x-ray images. Using these images as a guide, the provider assesses for any abnormal varicose veins. Using coils or sclerosants (medicine injected into blood vessels to irritate them causing them to close), the abnormal vein is blocked, which reduces pressure on the varicocele. By embolizing the vein, blood flow is redirected through other pathways.
This procedure takes about an hour, and recovery time after the procedure is approximately two hours. During the recovery time your blood pressure, heart rate, and insertion site will be monitored as the sedation medication wears off. After treatment, a patient is able to return to daily activities immediately.