Varicocelectomy in adolescents – Does it safeguard future fertility? A single centre experience

Published:December 04, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpurol.2021.11.020

      Summary

      Background

      There is paucity of literature comparing varicocelectomy to observant management amongst adolescent boys with hormonal and semen abnormalities resulting from high grade unilateral varicoceles and consequent testicular volume loss. Furthermore, it is not known whether surgical correction in such adolescents improves paternity rates in future compared to their non-operated cohort.

      Objective

      The primary objective was to compare adolescent boys with unilateral high grade varicocele with associated ipsilateral testicular volume loss who were operated versus those who were not, in relation to their fertility markers (hormonal, semen parameters, and testicular volume) over a 5 year follow up period. The secondary objective was to compare the paternity rates in the respective groups over long term.

      Study design

      This was a single center, retrospective study of a prospectively maintained database conducted from 2010 to 2020, based on a standardized protocol. All adolescent boys >15 years of age (middle and late adolescence), with grade II or III unilateral varicoceles with abnormal fertility markers, who were operated (Group A) and not operated (Group B) were included. The changes in hormonal assay, sonographic assessment, semen analysis at presentation, 1st year and the 5th year follow up amongst both the groups were collated and analysed. Primary paternity rates amongst both the groups was documented by telephonic or email conversations.

      Results

      Of the 182 boys referred for varicocele management, 110 boys (Group A −70 boys and Group B - 40 boys) satisfied our inclusion criteria and were analysed. Mean age at presentation amongst Group A boys was 16.5 years (15–18 years) and Group B boys was 16 years (15–18 years). Grade III varicoceles were more predominant amongst both the groups. There was a significant improvement in all Group A boys (operated) in the fertility markers from the time at presentation to the 5th year follow up (p < 0.001). In Group B, (boys not operated) there was no significant improvement in the above parameters. The testicular catch up growth was 92% at the 5th year follow-up in Group A and 42% in Group B. At long term follow-up, the paternity rate was 80% and 36% in Group A and B respectively.

      Discussion and conclusion

      In adolescent boys in whom hormonal assay, testicular volumes and semen characteristics are negatively affected by high grade unilateral varicoceles, surgical correction could normalize these values, thereby safeguarding their fertility in the long term.

      Keywords

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