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Basic Clin Androl. 2017 Jun 8;27:11. doi: 10.1186/s12610-017-0055-x. eCollection 2017.

Subinguinal microsurgical varicocelectomy vs. percutaneous embolization in infertile men: Prospective comparison of reproductive and functional outcomes.

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Department of Urology, Toulouse university hospital, 1, avenue Jean Poulhès - TSA 50032, 31059 Toulouse cedex 9, France.


in English, French


Varicocele is a condition characterized by dilated, tortuous veins within the pampiniform venous plexus of the scrotal sac. Presence of varicocele is associated with an increased risk of alteration of semen parameters. The objective of this study was to compare the current standard in varicocele treatment procedures: sub-inguinal microscopic ligation to percutaneous embolization in terms of semen parameters improvement, fertility, and morbidity at the university hospital of Toulouse (France). Seventy six patients with clinical varicocele, alteration of semen parameters and infertility, underwent either procedure (microsurgery in 49 case performed by a single surgeon and embolization in 27 cases) and were prospectively analyzed. Outcome measures were: semen parameters, spontaneous pregnancies, pain, side effects, recovery time and overall satisfaction. All patients were contacted in January 2015 in order to determine reproductive events.


Preoperatively, there was no difference in clinical and biological items between the two groups. Postoperatively, on the overall population, there was a significant improvement of sperm concentration at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months (p = <0.001, <0.001, 0.012, 0.018) and sperm motility at 6 months (p = 0.002). The sperm concentration was higher at 6 months in the percutaneous embolization group (13.42, vs. 8.1×106/ml; p = 0.043). With a median follow-up of 4 years, 27 pregnancies occurred (spontaneous pregnancy rate of 35.5%). There was no significant difference between procedures on the sperm quality, pregnancy rate, and the overall satisfaction. Patients undergoing percutaneous embolization reported a faster recovery time (p = 0.002) and less postoperative pain (p = 0.007).


Our study shows that percutaneous embolization seems to be an equivalent alternative to sub-inguinal microscopic ligation in term of sperm quality improvement, pregnancy rate, and overall satisfaction with a slight advantage on post-operative morbidity.


Percutaneous embolization; Semen analysis; Subinguinal varicocelectomy; Varicocele

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