Varicocele—Child

(Varicose Veins of the Scrotum—Child)
  • Definition

    Varicocele is painless swelling of blood vessels in the scrotum. The scrotum is the pouch that contains the testes in males.
    Varicocele
    testicle varices
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  • Causes

    Most blood normally flows out of the scrotum through a a main vein. A faulty valve in this vein causes blood to back up into the scrotum and lead to varicocele.
  • Risk Factors

    Varicoceles typically develop in males 15-25 years old.
  • Symptoms

    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.
  • Diagnosis

    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.
    An ultrasound may be done if complications are expected.
  • Treatment

    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.
    Follow the doctor's instructions if your child is diagnosed with this condition.
  • Prevention

    There is no way to prevent varicoceles.
  • RESOURCES

    American Society for Reproductive Medicine http://www.asrm.org/

    American Urological Association http://www.auanet.org/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca/

    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/

    References

    Tekgul S, Riedmiller H, Gerharz E, 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/what.php . Updated May 10, 2013. Accessed June 24, 2013.

    Varicocele. Teens Health Nemours website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Accessed June 24, 2013.

    Varicocele. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=116 . Accessed June 24, 2013.

    Wein A, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology . 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, Elsevier; 2007.

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