(Varicose Veins of the Scrotum—Child)
DefinitionVaricocele is painless swelling of blood vessels in the scrotum. The scrotum is the pouch that contains the testes in males.
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CausesMost blood normally flows out of the scrotum through a main vein. A faulty valve in this vein causes blood to back up into the scrotum and lead to varicocele.
Risk FactorsVaricoceles typically develop in males 15-25 years old.
SymptomsYou 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.
DiagnosisThe 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.
TreatmentTreatment 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.
PreventionThere are no current guidelines to prevent varicoceles.
Reproductive Facts—American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Urology Care Foundation
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Tekgul S, Riedmiller H, 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. Updated May 10, 2013. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Varicocele. Nemours Kid's Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual%5Fhealth/guys/varicocele.html. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Varicoceles. 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.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 01/2015
- Update Date: 05/05/2014