A varicocele occurs when blood backs up in the main veins that drain the scrotum. The scrotum is the pouch that contains the testes in males. The condition is usually painless. It is important that your child see a doctor if he develops swelling in the scrotum.
This condition occurs when the valve in the main vein of the scrotum does not work properly. This causes blood to back up.
If your child experiences any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to a varicocele. These symptoms may be caused by other, sometimes serious, health conditions. If your child experiences any one of them, see the doctor:
- Painless swelling in the scrotum
- Enlarged or twisted veins in the scrotum—You will be able to see or feel a varicocele. It is an enlarged or twisted vein in the scrotum. You may also see shrinkage of the testicles. Varicoceles typically change in size and are larger when standing or straining. Varicoceles occur more commonly on the left side.
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and do a physical exam. Tests may include the following:
- Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine the contents of the scrotum
- Urine tests
Treatment is not required in all cases. However, treatment may include:
- Open surgery—The vein is surgically cut and tied off.
- Catheter ablation—Heat is applied through a catheter to destroy the vein.
- Catheter embolization—A substance is placed in the vein to block it.
- Laparoscopy —This involves the use of a thin, lighted tube inserted into the abdomen to view the vessels in the body as they lead to the testicle.
Follow the doctor's instructions if your child is diagnosed with this condition.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 06/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/60/2012 -