New Varicoceles Treatment
German researchers have discovered that an easy to perform, minimally invasive procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis can bring about a significant improvement in sperm quality for men suffering from varicoceles. This condition affects one in every ten men and is a common cause of male infertility.
The study was performed at the University of Bonn Medical School and was published in the journal Radiology.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Sebastian Flacke, and his team of researchers discovered that they could correlate the level of sperm motility prior to the treatment and post-surgical pregnancy success. At present, Flacke is an associate professor of radiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, as well as the director of noninvasive cardiovascular imaging and a vice chair for R&D in the radiology department for Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts. Flacke, commenting on the new procedure stated, "Venous embolization, a simple treatment using a catheter through the groin, can help to improve sperm function in infertile men. With the patients' improved sperm function, more than one-quarter of their healthy partners were able to become pregnant."
Varicoceles are similar to varicose veins in that the blood vessels become swollen and tangled. But in varicoceles, the vessels are contained within the scrotum. The normal state of things is for the blood to flow from the testicles back to the heart by way of tiny veins that have valves to stop the blood from returning and flowing back to the testicles. If the valves malfunction, the blood pools and cannot exit the testicles as it should. This pooled blood causes vessels in the area to swell and bulge.
Varicoceles are common and often produce no noticeable symptoms. They affect somewhere between 10%-15% of U.S. adult males. The National Institutes of Health tell us that the condition affects younger men between the ages of 15 and 25. In rare cases, there may be pain, shrinkage of the testicles, and fertility issues.
The classic treatment for symptomatic varicoceles has been open surgery in which affected blood vessels are removed. The new procedure, called catheter embolization is minimally invasive and a man can have the treatment as an outpatient.
A radiologist inserts a catheter into a very small cut in the groin. The catheter is guided into the diseased blood vessel with the help of x-ray imaging. The vessel is blocked through the use of a platinum coil and a miniscule amount of a liquid agent. Recovery time is fast and the patient can return to work within a day of having the procedure.