A varicocele is a varicose vein of the testicle and scrotum that may cause pain, testicular atrophy or fertility problems. Treatment is aimed at restoring normal blood flow.

CIRA interventional radiologists offer a highly effective alternative to open surgical ligation called varicocele embolization. During the procedure, the interventional radiologist makes a tiny nick in the skin at the groin using local anesthesia. A thin catheter is passed into the femoral vein, then directly into the testicular vein. The physician then injects contrast dye to provide direct visualization of the veins so he or she can map out exactly where the problem is and where to block, or embolize, the vein. Using coils, particles or balloons, the interventional radiologist blocks the blood flow in the vein, reducing painful pressure on the varicocele. Blood flow is then redirected to other healthy pathways, in effect accomplishing what a urologist does, but without open surgery. Embolization is equally effective in improving male infertility. Benefits include no surgical incision in the scrotal area, no general anesthesia, no sutures, virtually no risk of infection, and a quicker recovery and return to normal activities.