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Navigating Varicocele Treatment: Understanding Your Options

Dealing with varicocele is like trying to navigate your way through a fog – uncomfortable, disorienting, and filled with uncertainty about your health and future, especially if that future might one day include children.

If you’re feeling stressed out or confused about this diagnosis, you’re not alone – many men are in the same boat, trying to find the best way to deal with the discomfort and get some clear answers.

At ECCO Medical, we specialize in varicocele treatment with a minimally invasive approach that requires no major incisions and minimal downtime. But before we examine the available treatment options for this complex condition, let’s first consider what varicocele is and its impact on the body.

What is Varicocele?

Varicocele is a condition characterized by the enlargement of veins within the scrotum, similar to varicose veins in the legs. The negative impact of this condition goes far beyond physical discomfort or appearance – it also has significant implications for fertility and testicular health.

The development of varicocele is often attributed to the failure of valves within the testicular veins, leading to increased pressure and vein enlargement – this can happen for many different reasons, but most often is attributed to genetics.

What Are the Symptoms of Varicocele?

Recognizing the signs of varicocele is crucial for timely intervention. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the scrotum, varying from sharp to dull
  • Pain that worsens with standing or physical exertion and improves upon lying down
  • A feeling of heaviness or aching in the testicle, often worsening over the course of the day

Varicoceles can also lead to decreased sperm production and quality, potentially causing infertility. Furthermore, they can inhibit normal testicular development or cause shrinkage.

The prevalence of this condition is notable, affecting about 15% of the general male population and up to 40% among men who are already facing infertility issues.

ECCO Medical’s Approach to Varicocele Intervention

At ECCO Medical, with locations in Lone Tree and Pueblo, Colorado, we specialize in treating varicoceles with an outpatient approach. Oftentimes, this involves a procedure called Gonadal Vein Embolization (GVE), which is minimally invasive compared to traditional surgery, offering a safer alternative with a quicker recovery period.

Varicocele treatment at ECCO Medical boasts a 90% success rate, with the remainder of patients experiencing significant relief, though some may require further intervention.

What Makes Gonadal Vein Embolization Different?

Traditional treatment options for varicocele primarily include surgical interventions, such as varicocelectomy or laparoscopic surgery. These procedures are typically performed by urologists, and involve the physical cutting and ligation of the affected scrotal veins to redirect blood flow away from the varicocele.

While effective, these surgical options often come with some pretty significant drawbacks, including long recovery times, high risk of complication, and the invasive nature of the procedure itself (not to mention pain and cost).

GVE, by comparison, was designed with patient comfort in mind. The benefits are endless, from the comfort of our outpatient setting to minimal risk of recurrence!

  • Less Invasive: Unlike surgical options that are more invasive and come with higher risks, embolization is a minimally invasive procedure.
  • Quicker Recovery: Patients enjoy a shorter recovery period, significantly reducing the disruption to their daily lives.
  • High Success Rate: With a success rate of 90%, varicocele treatment at ECCO Medical is just as effective as surgery without the associated risks and discomfort.

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What Are My Options? The Procedures Explained

At ECCO Medical, we use state-of-the-art technology and the most cutting-edge techniques for varicocele treatment. The process typically involves two distinct steps:

Venogram for Diagnoses: “Veno” means vein and “Gram” means picture.  So, using ultrasound guidance, our physicians inject dye into your veins and use X-ray technology to “see” the veins and assess their functionality to determine the correct treatment plan.

Once the proper path is determined,  a vein in either your arm, leg or neck is then accessed with a hollow needle using ultrasound guidance. A thin wire is then advanced into the affected vein (where treatment occurs).

Image-Guided Interventions: Next, depending on your need, possible interventions include:

  • Angioplasty: Specialized balloons can be advanced over the wire and inflated to open blockages or narrowed veins.
  • Stent placement: Stents (tubular metal scaffolds) can be placed in the vein to keep it open if the vein cannot stay open on its own.
  • Embolization: If indicated, we can use coils or plugs to shut down a non functional vein.

These procedures are outpatient, requiring no hospital stay, and are performed under conscious sedation, depending on the case. Since there are no incisions, recovery time is brief.  

The main limitation is no heavy lifting (defined as > 15 lbs) for five days following the procedure. Occasionally, temporary blood thinners may be needed following the treatment, but don’t worry – we’ll guide you through your recovery with ease, and are here to answer any questions that might come up during or afterwards!

ECCO Medical: Your Partner in Health

At ECCO Medical, we understand the impact of varicoceles on your comfort, life goals, and overall well-being. Our team is dedicated to providing the compassionate, expert care you’ve been searching for, utilizing the latest in medical technology.

Men – if you’re dealing with the effects of a varicocele or have concerns about your reproductive health, we’re here to help.

We encourage anyone experiencing symptoms or seeking more information on varicocele and its treatment options to reach out. Let’s discuss how we can support your journey to better health together!

For further questions or to schedule a consultation, please click here.

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