Interventional Radiology: Varicocele Embolization
At NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, our board-certified interventional radiologists from ColumbiaDoctors, the faculty practice of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, are experienced in diagnosing and treating varicoceles in men. Our experts perform varicocele embolization, a minimally invasive, safe, and highly effective treatment for varicoceles that relieves symptoms and enhances quality of life.
What are Varicoceles?
Varicoceles are a common condition in men that involves enlarged or swollen veins in the scrotum (the sac that holds the testicles). They are often described as a "bag of worms." Many men experience no symptoms from varicoceles and don’t need treatment, but for some people, varicoceles symptoms can interfere with daily activity and fertility. Treatment varicoceles may be recommended if you experience the following symptoms:
- Discomfort, pain, or swelling
- Difference in testicle size
- Decrease in fertility
- Decreased testosterone production by the testis
Varicoceles are usually easy to diagnose, either with a physical exam or an ultrasound.
A consultation and exam with an interventional radiologist can help determine whether varicocele embolization is the right treatment for your varicoceles.
Varicocele embolization is a minimally invasive procedure with similar results to open surgery and much less recovery time. Most of our patients go home on the day of their procedure with a Band-aid instead of an incision.
During this procedure, an interventional radiologist uses X-ray imaging to navigate a catheter to the veins in the testicle. Small metallic coils are then placed through the catheter and into the veins. The coils block the blood flow through the enlarged vein, causing it to shrink and eventually disappear.
Varicocele embolization is performed in our state-of-the-art interventional radiology suite, equipped with cutting-edge imaging technology to help make the procedure as safe and accurate as possible.
How do I get ready for the procedure?
On the night before the procedure, eat a light meal and then do not eat or drink anything after midnight. We’ll provide you with more detailed information about which medications you may take in the days before and morning of the procedure. Plan to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
What happens during varicocele embolization?
After you arrive at the interventional radiology suite and change into a gown, you will lie face-up on the procedure table. To help relax you and prevent pain, you’ll receive an intravenous combination of medicines called “conscious sedation.” Using X-ray and/or ultrasound image guidance, we’ll insert a catheter through a small incision into the femoral vein in the groin or into the jugular vein in the neck. We will then inject a contrast dye through the catheter to make the varicocele and the blood vessels that supply it visible on the X-ray. Using the catheter, we will advance small metallic coils into the veins and block them with it. The entire procedure takes about an hour.
After the procedure
We will keep you in the recovery area until any bleeding at the insertion point has stopped and your vital signs are normal. You should arrange for a ride home. After returning home, rest for 24 hours and avoid lifting anything more than 10 pounds for three to five days. We will give you additional instructions before you leave the interventional radiology suite.
Success of varicocele embolization
Our ColumbiaDoctors interventional radiologists are highly successful in treating varicoceles, with a high technical success rate (above 90%) in treating the condition. Among patients who report having pain, up to 80% will have complete resolution of their symptoms.
Additionally, varicocele embolization has been shown to improve male fertility. A recent study showed that among men with a clinically visible left varicocele (a varicocele on the left side of the scrotum), abnormal sperm parameters, and documented infertility, varicocele embolization is associated with a significant improvement in semen parameters, including sperm head morphology. Another study showed that, with improved sperm count and motility, pregnancy rates improve by almost 50%.
Are there any risks?
Complications from varicocele embolization are rare but include bruising at the catheter insertion point, backache, and, rarely, nausea.
Why Choose Us
Varicocele embolization expertise
Varicocele embolization is a complex and challenging procedure that requires expertise and a cautious approach. At NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, our board-certified interventional radiologists from ColumbiaDoctors, the faculty practice of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, offer unmatched expertise and experience in varicocele embolization, even in the most complicated patients.
At NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, we are continually committed to incorporating the latest cutting-edge imaging technologies into your care, including advanced X-ray fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound. For varicocele embolization, our 3D imaging technology helps to increase procedure safety, limit the risk of complications, and achieve the best possible outcomes.
Empowering patients with information
We encourage all prospective patients to learn as much as possible about their medical condition and the available treatment options. Our interventional radiologists are available for consultations to confirm a diagnosis, get a second opinion, or help evaluate their treatment options.
Make an Appointment
Patients can book Radiology appointments online via NYP.org/Connect as long as the patient has an Epic Order. Radiology appointments for X-Ray, ultrasound, bone density, echocardiogram, and limited CT and MRI scans.