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(Varicose Veins of the Scrotum—Child)

En Español (Spanish Version)


A varicocele occurs when blood backs up in the main veins that drain the scrotum. The scrotum is the pouch that contains the testes in males. The condition is usually painless. It is important that your child see a doctor if he develops swelling in the scrotum.


testicle varices

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This condition occurs when the valve in the main vein of the scrotum does not work properly. This causes blood to back up.

Risk Factors

Varicoceles typically develop in males 15-25 years old.


If your child experiences any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to a varicocele. These symptoms may be caused by other, sometimes serious, health conditions. If your child experiences any one of them, see the doctor:

  • Painless swelling in the scrotum
  • Enlarged or twisted veins in the scrotum—You will be able to see or feel a varicocele. It is an enlarged or twisted vein in the scrotum. You may also see shrinkage of the testicles. Varicoceles typically change in size and are larger when standing or straining. Varicoceles occur more commonly on the left side.


The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and do a physical exam. Tests may include the following:

  • Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine the contents of the scrotum
  • Urine tests


Treatment is not required in all cases. However, treatment may include:

  • 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.
  • Laparoscopy —This involves the use of a thin, lighted tube inserted into the abdomen to view the vessels in the body as they lead to the testicle.

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


There is no way to prevent varicoceles.


American Society for Reproductive Medicine

American Urological Association


The College of Family Physicians of Canada

Health Canada


DynaMed Editors. Varicocele. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated June 2009. Accessed July 27, 2009.

Mayo Clinic. Varicocele. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: . Updated July 8, 2010. Accessed November 11, 2010.

Tekgul S, Riedmiller H, Gerharz E, et al. Varicocele in children and adolescents. Guidelines on paediatric urology. European Association of Urology . 2009;23-25.

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

Last reviewed June 2011 by Kari Kassir, MD

Last updated Updated: 6/6/2011

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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