What is a varicocele?
A varicocele is an abnormality or a widening in the veins around the testicle. The blood backs up in the veins causing swelling which is similar to the varicose veins that develop in the legs. Varicoceles usually develop slowly and are more commonly first seen between 15 and 25 years of age. A varicocele is generally not harmful or painful, but they can occasionally lead to problems with fertility.
Why come to Children's Hospital Colorado for treatment of this condition?
The professionals at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado are dedicated to caring for kids. The members of the urology team are experts in pediatric urologic conditions and our surgeons are specialized in both pediatrics and urology. We strive to help patients and families feel educated about their condition, prepared for treatment and fully cared for by our urology team.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of a varicocele include a painless testicular lump which is often described as a ‘bag of worms’. It is also possible that there would be enlarged or twisted veins within the scrotum. The testicle with the varicocele can be smaller than the testicle without.
How do you diagnose it?
A physical exam by a urologist assists in confirming if a child has a varicocele. Sometimes an ultrasound scan of the testicles is performed.
How is it treated?
If the child is not experiencing pain or discomfort, the urologist may suggest yearly follow-ups to evaluate the varicocele. Also, if the child is experiencing pain or if the testicle is smaller, a surgery called a varicocelectomy may be recommended. This outpatient surgery removes the large veins and does not require an overnight stay in the hospital.
Who gets it, and can it be prevented?
In most men no cause for the varicocele is found.