Varicocele Embolisation

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This information sheet will explain the examination you are going to have. It is also important that you follow the instructions from your hospital Consultant.

What is a Varicocele embolisation?
A varicocele is a varicose (enlarged) vein in the scrotum. A varicocele embolisation involves blocking this vein using very fine surgical coils. After an injection of local anaesthetic, a fine tube is passed into the vein in your groin. This tube is then fed as far into the vein in your scrotum as possible. You will not be able to feel this tube once it is within the vein, but you may feel a slight sensation when the tube is within the scrotum. The consultant will inject a small amount of dye to ensure that the tube is in the right place. This may give you a warm sensation for a few seconds, but this will pass quickly.

The coils look like tiny springs and may have very fine fibres on them to encourage the blood within the vein to clot. They are made of surgical grade material and will not register on metal detectors e.g. airport security etc. Other veins within the scrotum will take over the job of the one that has been blocked, but it will take up to 6 weeks for everything to feel normal again. During this time you may get a feeling of fullness within the scrotum but this will resolve.

Will I need to stay in hospital?
A varicocele embolisation can be done as a day case depending on your general medical condition and how you recover. Rarely you may be required to stay until the morning following the procedure.

Do I need to do anything before the examination?
It is very important that you do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the time of your appointment; however you must continue to take any essential medication with a small amount of water. If you are diabetic you will be advised about your medication by the medical staff. Please telephone the department on 01908 995672 for advice if you take aspirin or any drug that makes you bleed more easily.

What will happen on the ward?
On arrival to the ward you will be admitted by a member of staff. You will be asked to put on a gown. You will be collected and brought to the Imaging department. If you ordinarily use a GTN spray or an Inhaler you must bring these with you.

What will happen during the procedure and who will be there?
When you arrive you will be greeted by the staff working in the department. They will check your details and ask you if you are allergic to anything. You will be transferred from your bed to the x-ray table and attached to a heart monitor. A Consultant Radiologist (a doctor who specialises in x-rays) will carry out the procedure assisted by an x-ray nurse. The radiographers will explain what is required from you to assist with the procedure.

Will I feel anything during the procedure?
The radiologist will numb the top of your leg with some local anaesthetic. You will feel a sharp pain, but only temporarily and the area will go numb.

How long will the procedure take?
This varies from patient to patient but should take approximately one hour.

What happens after the procedure?
Once the examination is completed the Radiologist will remove the tube from your groin and press for a few minutes to stop any bleeding. You will be taken back to the ward and asked to remain on your bed for 3 hours. During this time you will not be able to eat or drink anything. A member of staff from the ward will check your wound, blood pressure and pulse rate regularly.

Are there any possible complications?
With any procedure there are some risks these include:

1. Infection – All the equipment used is sterile and is disposed of at the end of the procedure.
2. Bleeding – Your blood will be tested before the procedure to check for any clotting abnormalities, which will be dealt with prior to the procedure.
3. Allergic reaction – Any of the drugs that we use could cause an allergic reaction that can range from a slight rash through to an anaphylactic reaction (severe allergic reaction).

These are all quite rare and we will do everything we can to minimise the chance of any of these happening to you.

How will I get the results?
The Radiologist will tell you at the time of the procedure whether they think it has been completed successfully.

Any further queries?
Our contact number is 01908 996934 and we are available from 8.30 am until 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Please do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.

Royal College of Radiologists 06/02
Handbook of interventional Radiology and Angiography 2nd edition Mosby, Myron Wojtowycz