Objectives: To prospectively compare sperm parameters, pregnancy and recurrence rates, and complications after randomized high ligation surgery versus microsurgical high inguinal varicocelectomy (MHIV).
Methods: Varicocele was diagnosed by physical examination and color Doppler ultrasound in 468 patients who underwent one of two procedures: high ligation surgery (n = 232) or MHIV (n = 236). The high ligation surgery was left unilateral in 142 and bilateral in 90. The MHIV was left unilateral in 128 and bilateral in 108. The patients were postoperatively evaluated by spermiograms and physical examination. The pregnancy rate was monitored for 2 years.
Results: One year after surgery, 34.05% in the high ligation group and 46.61% in the MHIV group had a more than 50% increase in their total motile sperm count (P = 0.000). The increase in sperm count was not statistically different between the two groups (P = 0.1), but the difference in the increase in sperm motility in the MHIV group was statistically significant (P = 0.000). Pregnancy rates at the end of 2 years reached 33.57% in the high ligation group and 42.85% in the MHIV group, not a statistically significant difference (P = 0.0571). The postoperative recurrence as detected by physical examination was markedly different between the two techniques. The recurrence rate was 15.51% in the high ligation group and 2.11% in the MHIV group (P = 0.000). Also, the incidence of postoperative hydrocele was significantly different between the two groups (9.09% in the high ligation group and 0.69% in the MHIV group; P = 0.000).
Conclusions: MHIV has lower recurrence and hydrocele rates, a higher increase in sperm motility, and results in higher pregnancy rates. Therefore, it should be the preferred technique for varicocelectomy.