What is a varicocele?

A varicocele is mass of enlarged and swollen veins in the testicle that essentially feels like a bag of worms. The condition usually develops at puberty, but can occur earlier and is generally neither harmful nor painful. Approximately 15 percent of boys have this condition, which almost always occurs on the left side.

How we care for varicoceles

Boston Children's Hospital physicians make a diagnosis based on whether your son is having any pain associated with the varicocele. If your son is experiencing pain, your Children's urologist will recommend a simple, outpatient surgical procedure. If there's no pain, your urologist may recommend nothing more than annual ultrasounds to ensure your son's testicle is growing normally.  However, a current study at Children's is examining which approach is better in adolescents: immediate surgery for the varicocele, or with the option of surgery after a waiting period.