Shear wave elastography in varicocele patients: Prospective study to investigate correlation with semen parameters and histological findings

Int J Clin Pract. 2021 Mar;75(3):e13699. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.13699. Epub 2020 Oct 13.


Aims: Shear wave elastosonography (SWE) is a non-invasive ultrasound imaging modality used to assess the mechanical properties of tissues such as rigidity and elasticity. In this prospective study, we investigated the effect of laparoscopic varicocelectomy on the elasticity, degree of fibrosis and function of the testes through SWE and we evaluated the correlation with semen parameters and histology findings.

Methods: Male patients with monolateral left varicocele and progressive alteration of the semen quality were enrolled prospectively. Patients were evaluated before varicocelectomy, 3 and 6 months after surgery with semen analysis, ecocolordoppler US and SWE. In all patients, a left testicular biopsy was performed at the time of varicocelectomy and it was repeated after 6 months in 55% of patients in order to investigate the histological findings and to correlate with SWE results.

Results: The study was conducted on 82 patients. SWE showed a statistically significant difference between left and right testicles. Three months after surgery the mean left testicular volume increased, mean left SWE features decreased, and sperm count increased (P values < .0001). The SWE parameters, testicular volume and semen analysis values showed a statistically significant positive correlation between the pre and postoperative results (P value < .0001). The histological alterations were significantly changed 6 months postoperative with a complete morphology recovery in accordance with SWE results.

Conclusions: SWE showed a statistically significant positive correlation with testicular volume, semen analysis and histological findings. This study represents the first investigation that correlates the varicocele, the testis volume, the quality of the seminal fluid ant the histological findings with the ultrasound and SWE values.

MeSH terms

  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Semen
  • Semen Analysis
  • Varicocele* / diagnostic imaging
  • Varicocele* / surgery