Varicocoele is a swelling in the scrotum (the sac containing the testes), which occurs when the veins draining blood from the testes get enlarged. It is most common on the left side due to the arrangement of the veins on that side.
How does it develop?
It develops due to inefficient valves within the veins along the spermatic cord (the cord suspending the testes). These abnormal valves hamper normal blood flow causing a hold up of blood, resulting in dilation of the veins.
A varicocoele often develops for no identifiable reason and can be a cause of infertility in males.
What are the symptoms?
Swelling of the scrotum accompanied by pain.
Infertility (low sperm count).
Visible and enlarged scrotum hangs lower on the enlarged side.
How is the condition diagnosed?
The mass may be easily felt when the patient is standing. Varicocoeles can be large or small. The doctor can detect the presence of a varicocoele by feeling that area. Small or hidden varicocoeles may require the use of diagnostic procedures like Doppler Ultrasonography (a visual imaging of the internal organs).
What is the treatment?
Varicocoeles may be treated by the use of a scrotal support. However, if pain continues or if infertility results from a backup of blood in the veins, surgical ligation (tying off) of the varicocoele may become necessary.
Surgery (Varicocoelectomy) is performed using general or spinal anaesthesia. Ice-packs can be kept for the first 24 hours after surgery to reduce swelling. Complications associated with any surgical procedure may occur like haematoma (blood clot formation), abscess or injury to the scrotal structures.