Varicocele—Child
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition
Varicocele is painless swelling of blood vessels in the scrotum. The scrotum is the pouch that contains the testes in males.

Varicocele

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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

American Urological Association

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
The College of Family Physicians of Canada


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.

Last Reviewed March 2013



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