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Radiol Clin North Am. 1991 May;29(3):619-27.

Varicoceles. Radiologic diagnosis and treatment.

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Department of Radiology, University of California, San Francisco.


The association of clinically apparent varicoceles with male subfertility and infertility has been noted in the urology literature since the late nineteenth century, and surgical ligation of varicoceles has been considered appropriate therapy in an attempt to improve semen quality and increase fertility for the past 40 years. It has been established by several authors cited herein that varicocele size does not predict prognosis after ligation reliably. Because subclinical varicoceles may affect testicular function and histologic characteristics adversely and because age at time of therapy may affect probability of successful enhancement of fertility, the interest of radiologists and urologists has been directed toward diagnosis and treatment of both clinically obvious and clinically occult varicoceles, particularly in young adult men or adolescent boys. Testicular growth after varicocele ligation in adolescent boys also suggests a benefit from early intervention. Sonographic evidence of a varicocele must be correlated with analysis of semen for sperm density, motility, and morphology, as not all patients with varicoceles are infertile. Although surgical therapy is standard for varicocele occlusion, fairly extensive evidence exists to show that percutaneous transvenous occlusion of varicoceles is feasible, safe, and effective, particularly in the setting of varicocele recurrence after conventional surgical treatment.

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