What to Expect During a Varicocele Embolization

Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as varicocele embolization are most often performed by a specially trained interventional radiologist.

This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis. However, some procedures may require admission. Please consult with your doctor.

You will be positioned on the examining table.

You will be connected to monitors that track your heart rate, blood pressure and pulse during the procedure.

A nurse or technologist will insert an I.V. into a vein in your hand or arm so that sedative medication can be given intravenously. You also may receive general anesthesia.

The area of your body where the catheter is to be inserted will be shaved, sterilized and covered with a surgical drape.

A very small nick is made in the skin at the site.

Using image-guidance, a catheter (a long, thin, hollow plastic tube) is inserted through the skin into the femoral vein, a large blood vessel in the groin, and maneuvered to the treatment site.

Small amounts of X-ray dye (contrast) are injected so that the interventional radiologist can clearly see the veins on the X-ray in order to pinpoint where the problem is and where to embolize, or block, the vein.

Tiny coils made of stainless steel or platinum or other materials, such as liquids, which directly close a vessel, are then inserted in the vein to block it. By blocking the diseased draining vein, backflow into the testicle is stopped and the blood is diverted to healthy veins to exit the testicle through normal pathways. Swelling and pressure within the testicle will be reduced if the blood flow is successfully diverted.

At the end of the procedure, the catheter will be removed and pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding. The opening in the skin is then covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed.

Time Consideration

This procedure is usually completed within one hour.

Other Factors

You will feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted into your vein for the I.V. and when the local anesthetic is injected.

The I.V. sedative will make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You may or may not remain awake, depending on how deeply you are sedated.

You may feel slight pressure when the catheter is inserted but no serious discomfort.

As the contrast material passes through your body, you may get a warm feeling.

You will remain in the recovery room until you are completely awake and ready to return home.

You should be able to resume your normal activities within 24 hours.

Limitations of Varicocele Embolization

In approximately five to 10 percent of patients who undergo varicocele embolization, the varicoceles return.