Varicocele surgery: a decade's experience at a children's hospital

BJU Int. 2009 Jul;104(2):246-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2008.08288.x. Epub 2008 Dec 19.


Objectives: To review our experience at a children's hospital over a 10-year period with the Palomo, Ivanissevich, subinguinal and laparoscopic techniques for varicocele, assessing the success and complication rates according to specific procedure, and the added effect that the modifications of microsurgery and artery-sparing has had on these rates. A second objective was to assess the rate of testicular compensatory growth after surgery for testicular hypotrophy.

Patients and methods: Ninety-two patients with >1 year of follow-up between 1996 and 2006 were assessed retrospectively. The median (range) age at surgery was 15 (8-21) years. Patients were stratified based on the surgical technique used by eight different urology faculty members. Microsurgery and attempted artery-sparing were applied to some Palomo, Ivannisevich, and subinguinal cases but not to laparoscopic procedures.

Results: The laparoscopic (100%) and Palomo (93%) techniques had significantly higher success rates than the Ivanissevich approach (69%). The success rate with the subinguinal technique (88%) was intermediate between the more successful supra-inguinal and less successful inguinal approaches. There was a higher hydrocele rate (32%) in the laparoscopic approach. Artery sparing significantly lowered hydrocele rates but had no effect on success rates. Incorporating microsurgery also had no effect on success rates but resulted in no hydrocele formation. One case of testicular atrophy occurred in a patient undergoing microsurgical artery-sparing subinguinal spermatic vein ligation. There was compensatory growth in 68% of patients operated on for testicular hypotrophy.

Conclusions: During our 10-year experience the laparoscopic and Palomo approaches were the most successful. The subinguinal approach (usually incorporating microsurgery and artery sparing) had an intermediate success rate. The Ivanissevich approach was least successful. Hydroceles did not occur when microsurgery was used, and were significantly less common with artery sparing. The only case of testicular atrophy was with a microsurgical artery-sparing subinguinal approach. When the spermatic vein was ligated for testicular hypotrophy there was compensatory growth in two-thirds of testes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / adverse effects
  • Microsurgery / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Testicular Hydrocele / etiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicocele / surgery*
  • Young Adult