Is microsurgical technique really necessary in inguinal or sub-inguinal surgical treatment of varicocele?

Gaetano Gulino, Alfonso D'Onofrio, Giuseppe Palermo, Michele Antonucci, F Presicce, Marco Racioppi, Pierfrancesco Bassi

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The ideal method for treatment of varicocele is still controversial. The techniques of inguinal and sub-inguinal ligation, although less invasive than "high" abdominal ligations (Palomo, Ivanissevich), have been less popular than the former ones. Up to now most authors have considered as mandatory microsurgical techniques for the ligation of spermatic veins at inguinal or sub-inguinal level, or at least instruments of optical magnification in order to preserve testicular arterial supply of the spermatic and cremasteric artery at groin and to prevent testicular atrophia or gonadic ischemia. The aim of this study was to assess clinical outcomes of open surgical technique of varicocele repair compared to results derived from microsurgical series. A retrospective study included 45 patients of mean age 31 years (range 18-39) that underwent open surgical technique of inguinal ligation of spermatic veins in the period 2004-2009; clinical results of this series were compared with those obtained in five relevant studies derived from systematic review of the literature on microsurgical techniques. The pre-operatory evaluation in our series included a physical examination, a minimum of two semen analysis and scrotal color Doppler ultrasound. Post-operative pain, complication rates, days of hospitalization and time to return to work were considered as main outcomes. All patients were evaluated at 1 week, at 3 and 6 months after the operation by means of a physical examination, scrotal Doppler ultrasound and sperm analysis. Most patients (39/45) presented no pain in the first week, 6/45 mild to moderate pain (mean VAS score 2). None of the patients reported pain in the weeks thereafter The hospitalization (1.8 +/- 0.7 days) and the time for return to work (7.2 +/- 3.2 days) were not significantly different in microsurgical and open groups. During follow-up no complications like hydrocele or testicular atrophy were observed. Doppler ultrasound carried out 3 and 6 months after surgery, pointed out no reflux in testicular veins in 41/45 cases while in 4/45 it showed a persistence of reflux grade I, less than the grade before the treatment. Comparing pre-and post-operatory sperm analysis allowed us to observe a significant improvement either in spermatozoa concentration (22 +/- 4 40_+/- 6 millions/ml, p < 0.01), either in motility (33 +/- 4% and 48 +/- 4%, p < 0.05), without significant changes in morphology. No significant differences were recorded comparing these data with those coming from microsurgical series. Our study reported positive clinical outcomes using the technique of sub-inguinal surgical ligature of varicocele without using microsurgical techniques or instruments of optical magnification. The operative time, complication and relapse rates, Doppler flow parameters and semen parameters were not significantly different from those reported in the literature of microsurgical techniques, with the advantage of such a simple surgical technique combined with cost savings and patient's comfort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-74
Number of pages6
JournalArchivio Italiano di Urologia Andrologia
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Inguinal Canal
  • Ligation
  • Male
  • Microsurgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Urologic Surgical Procedures, Male
  • Varicocele
  • Young Adult


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