Author(s): Steckel J, Dicker AP, Goldstein M
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Abstract We studied the relationship between varicocele size and response to surgery in 86 men with a unilateral left varicocele who reported either infertility (83), pain (1) or pain and testicular atrophy (2). Varicoceles were graded according to size: grade 1--small (22 patients), grade 2--medium (44) and grade 3--large (20). Sperm count, per cent motility, per cent tapered forms and fertility index (sperm count times per cent motility) were measured preoperatively and postoperatively. Preoperatively, men with grade 3 varicocele had lower sperm counts and poorer fertility indexes compared to men with grades 1 and 2 varicocele. Sperm concentration improved significantly in men with grade 2 (33 +/- 5 million per cc preoperatively to 41 +/- 6 million postoperatively, p < 0.04) and grade 3 (18 +/- 5 million preoperatively to 32 +/- 7 million postoperatively) varicocele after microsurgical ligation of the varicocele. Motility improved significantly in men with grade 3 varicocele. Decrease in per cent tapered forms was significant in all groups. A comparison of per cent change in fertility index among the groups revealed that men with grade 3 varicocele improved to a greater degree (128\%) than men with grade 1 (27\%) or grade 2 (21\%) varicocele. Pregnancy rates 2 years postoperatively were 40\% for grade 1, 46\% for grade 2 and 37\% for grade 3 varicocele patients. The difference in pregnancy rates among the groups was not statistically significant. In conclusion, infertile men with a large varicocele have poorer preoperative semen quality but repair of the large varicocele in those men results in greater improvement than repair of a small or medium sized varicocele.
This article was published in J Urol
and referenced in Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders: Current Research