A varicocele is an enlargement of veins in a male’s scrotum. The abnormal flow causing the varicocele may cause pain, swelling and infertility.
Varicocele Embolisation Procedure
Varicocele embolisation can reduce the symptoms of scrotal congestion syndrome by blocking off the faulty veins, hence they can no longer enlarge with blood. The abnormal vein does not function normally and blocking it allows for new, effective veins to develop.
The procedure is performed by an experienced Interventional Radiologist, in the angiography suite of the hospital.
A liquid dye (contrast medium) is injected to outline the veins so they are visible with x-ray fluoroscopy using specialised medical imaging equipment.
The specialised x-ray machine is used to take pictures as a catheter is guided from the groin vein, arm vein or neck vein, to the target vein(s) in the lower abdomen and pelvis. Platinum coils are placed in the target faulty vein(s), sealing them. Sometimes a foaming agent may be used to cause the blood in the veins to clot. This treatment is effective in 90-95% of patients.
In the majority of people, treatment involves a left sided vein only.
The procedure usually takes about one hour.
Your general practitioner or urologist can refer you for this procedure if they feel this is suitable for you.
The procedure will be performed under sedation administered by an anaesthetist.
You will be instructed to fast for 6 hours prior to the procedure, this means nothing to eat or drink. However, you may take your usual medications with sips of water.
You will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.
What to expect after the procedure
Immediately after the procedure you will need to remain in bed for two hours, to ensure the groin access site has stopped bleeding and the occluding coils have embedded. After this, you will be encouraged to mobilise as tolerated.
Most patients can go home either the same day or the next day.
It is normal to have some flank pain for up to a week. Your anaesthetist will make sure you are comfortable with suitable pain relief.
Strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for about one week.
Risks and Side Effects
The risks associated with this are small and include bruising at the puncture site, infection, mild back ache and nausea. These typically resolve within a week. There is a small risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast dye and an exceptionally rare chance of inadvertent migration of coils to the lungs.
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