Who will benefit from surgical repair for painful varicocele: a meta-analysis

Int Urol Nephrol. 2016 Jul;48(7):1071-8. doi: 10.1007/s11255-016-1246-7. Epub 2016 Apr 13.


Purpose: To determine the efficacy of different surgical approaches and techniques for resolving varicocele-related pain and factors that predict surgical outcomes.

Methods: The PubMed and Embase databases were searched with the terms "varicocele", "varicocelectomy" and "pain". Manual searches by reviewing the references of included studies were performed. Studies were included when they focused on the influence of varicocele grade, pain quality, different surgical approaches or techniques on pain resolution. A meta-analysis was conducted with RevMan5.3 software.

Results: Twelve studies were identified in the analysis. No significant correlation was found between varicocele grade and pain resolution (P > 0.05). The resolution rate for dull pain was significantly higher than sharp pain [RR = 1.11, 95 % CI (1.02, 1.22), P = 0.02], and there were no other significant differences between the qualities of pain and pain resolution. The pain resolution rate was significantly higher after subinguinal varicocelectomy than after high or inguinal varicocelectomy [RR = 0.83, 95 % CI (0.76, 0.90), P < 0.00001 and RR = 0.92, 95 % CI (0.86, 0.99), P = 0.02]. The pain resolution rate was significantly higher after microsurgery than after laparoscopic varicocelectomy [RR = 0.77, 95 % CI (0.60, 0.99), P = 0.04].

Conclusion: Subinguinal varicocelectomy and microsurgical varicocelectomy are efficacious for resolving varicocele-related pain compared to other approaches and techniques. Pain quality is a factor that predicts surgical outcomes while varicocele grade is not. Additional controlled studies are warranted to clearly define this clinical problem.

Keywords: Metastasis; Pain; Varicocele; Varicocelectomy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / methods*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Varicocele / complications
  • Varicocele / diagnosis
  • Varicocele / surgery*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / methods*