Spermatic vein embolization as a treatment for symptomatic varicocele


  • Mark P. Broe St Vincent's University Hospital
  • James P.C. Ryan
  • Eanna J. Ryan
  • David J. Murphy
  • David W. Mulvin
  • Colin Cantwell
  • David P. Brophy




Spermatic vein embolisation, varicocoele, testicular pain, testicular vein embolisation, varicocoele repair, interventional radiology


Introduction: Varicocele is a relatively common condition in men that causes pain in approximately 10% of cases. There have been few studies to date assessing the improvements in both pain and quality of life parameters associated with spermatic vein embolization (SVE) as a treatment for patients with symptomatic varicocele, so we aimed to assess this.

Methods: A review was carried out of consecutive SVE procedures performed at our institution from 2013–2019. Only patients with painful varicocele were included after other causes of testicular pain were excluded. The technique employed was a combination of distal coil embolization of the spermatic vein with 4–6 mm coils at the level of the inguinal canal, as well as sclerotherapy to prevent reflux of sclerosant. Furthermore, a prospective validated Pain Impact Questionnaire-6 (PIQ-6) was performed to assess for improvement in quality of life. A matched pair Student two-tailed t-test was used to compare mean scores pre- and post-treatment, with 95% confidence intervals presented as T scores and their associated p-values.

Results: Over six years, 62 SVE procedures were performed for symptomatic varicocele. Success rate was 95%, with a median followup of nine months. Two patients had a failed procedure on two occasions requiring subsequent surgical ligation. There was one clinically significant recurrence. All components of PIQ-6 score showed a statistically significant reduction post-SVE, most noticeably pain severity and impact on leisure activities.

Conclusions: SVE is a safe, effective, and well-tolerated treatment for symptomatic varicocele, improving pain and quality of life.


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How to Cite

Broe, M. P., Ryan, J. P., Ryan, E. J., Murphy, D. J., Mulvin, D. W., Cantwell, C. ., & Brophy, D. P. (2021). Spermatic vein embolization as a treatment for symptomatic varicocele. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 15(11). https://doi.org/10.5489/cuaj.7077



Original Research