Varicoceles are similar to varicose veins in the legs but these are located in the scrotum. In men, they usually occur on the left side of the body. If they occur only on the right side of the body, further investigation must be undertaken to ensure there is not a worrisome problem that is causing this abnormality. Varicoceles can sometimes cause discomfort in the scrotum. More commonly, varicoceles are discovered during an evaluation for male infertility. Varicoceles can decrease sperm numbers, alter sperm movement, and cause abnormally shaped sperm to be produced.
Treating varicoceles involves stopping the abnormal venous blood flow from the testicle. Some radiologists can perform this through injection procedures. Often, varicoceles are repaired surgically, either by microsurgery or by laparoscopy. Microsurgery involves using an operating microscope to find the abnormal veins and tie them off thereby stopping the abnormal blood flow. Microsurgery is advantageous because the high power magnification when using a true operating microscope allows one to treat only the abnormal veins: other normal structures like the artery and lymphatic vessels that supply the testicle are left intact. A true operating microscope provides better magnification and greater precision than the traditional operating glasses used by some surgeons which do not provide the same level of magnification. Laparoscopic varicocele repair involves using cameras and instruments inside the abdominal cavity to find the veins closer to their origin and stop the abnormal blood flow.