A varicocele means there is enlargement of the veins in the scrotum caused by stasis of blood flow. The stasis can cause blood to pool in the vessel until the vessel wall begins to bulge, and the scrotal sac swells. Though it may appear earlier, a varicocele usually develops around the age of 15 (puberty) and often occurs on the left side.
If your son has a varicocele, he may not experience any pain or swelling, except perhaps during physical exercise. While bathing, he might notice a large vein in his scrotum, or that one testis is smaller than the other. Varicoceles are sometimes discovered during routine physical examinations.
If a varicocele is found during a physical examination by your child’s primary care physician, your child will be referred to a pediatric urologist. Your Nemours urologist will do a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s condition, including a physical examination and medical history.
If there’s concern about the size of the testis, your doctor will order a scrotal/testicular ultrasound. Based on this test, the doctor will discuss treatment and therapy options for your child.
If your son isn’t experiencing pain or discomfort, the recommendation may be to closely monitor growth and development of the testes as he goes through puberty.
If there is a significant difference in the size of the two testes, or if your son is experiencing pain, then surgical correction may be indicated. Nemours urologists can usually do this as an outpatient procedure, and in a few weeks your son can get back to normal activities.