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Eur Urol. 2019 Mar;75(3):448-461. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2018.09.042. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

Treatment of Varicocele in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis from the European Association of Urology/European Society for Paediatric Urology Guidelines Panel.

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Division of Pediatric Urology, Department of Urology, Istanbul Medeniyet University, Istanbul, Turkey. Electronic address:
Department of Urology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Urology and Pediatric Urology, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Department of Pediatric and Adult Urology, East and North Herts NHS Trust, Stevenage, UK.
Department of Urology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Division of Pediatric Urology, Department of Urology, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.
Department of Urology, General Teaching Hospital and Charles University 1st Faculty of Medicine in Praha, Prague, Czech Republic.
Department of Urology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
Department of Pediatric, Adolescent and Reconstructive Urology, University of Medical Center Mannheim, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.



The benefits and harms of intervention (surgical or radiological) versus observation in children and adolescents with varicocele are controversial.


To systematically evaluate the evidence regarding the short- and long-term outcomes of varicocele treatment in children and adolescents.


A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) statement. A priori protocol was registered to PROSPERO (CRD42018084871), and a literature search was performed for all relevant publications published from January 1980 until June 2017. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), nonrandomized comparative studies (NRSs), and single-arm case series including a minimum of 50 participants were eligible for inclusion.


Of 1550 articles identified, 98 articles including 16 130 patients (7-21 yr old) were eligible for inclusion (12 RCTs, 47 NRSs, and 39 case series). Varicocele treatment improved testicular volume (mean difference 1.52ml, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.73-2.31) and increased total sperm concentration (mean difference 25.54, 95% CI 12.84-38.25) when compared with observation. Open surgery and laparoscopy may have similar treatment success. A significant decrease in hydrocele formation was observed in lymphatic sparing versus non-lymphatic sparing surgery (p=0.02). Our findings are limited by the heterogeneity of the published data, and a lack of long-term outcomes demonstrating sperm parameters and paternity rates.


Moderate evidence exists on the benefits of varicocele treatment in children and adolescents in terms of testicular volume and sperm concentration. Current evidence does not demonstrate superiority of any of the surgical/interventional techniques regarding treatment success. Long-term outcomes including paternity and fertility still remain unknown.


In this paper, we review benefits and harms of varicocele treatment in children and adolescents. We found moderate evidence that varicocele treatment results in improvement of testicular volume and sperm concentration. Lymphatic sparing surgery decreases hydrocele formation. Paternity and fertility outcomes are not clear.


Adolescent; Children; Hydrocele; Paternity; Recurrence; Varicocele

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