Having a varicocele embolisation

Varicocele embolisation for enlarged veins in the testicles

A varicocele embolisation is non-surgical, X-ray guided treatment for a varicocele. This is a group of enlarged blood vessels (veins) in the pouch (scrotum) around the testicle.

Before your procedure

We arrange for you to have some blood tests before your procedure. You have a pre-assessment appointment. This appointment is usually face to face in the clinic, but can be held online or by phone.

The pre-assessment nursing team and IR doctor need to know what medicines you take. This includes any:

  • tablets
  • inhalers
  • creams
  • medicines that you buy in a pharmacy or shop, such as herbal remedies

If you have your pre-assessment appointment in person, please bring a list of any medicines that you currently take. Otherwise, please get this list ready for your online or phone appointment.

Sometimes, you need to stop taking certain medicines before your procedure. The pre-assessment nurse can tell you when you should stop any medicines. You can start taking these medicines again after the procedure, but the IR doctor or nurse will give you advice about this.

If you need a hoist (piece of medical equipment to help lift or move you safely), transport or a translator, please contact the interventional radiology (IR) department.

On the day of the procedure

Here are some tips about what to do on the day of your varicocele embolisation procedure:

Tips for the day of the procedure


  • arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to allow enough time to prepare
  • change into a hospital gown
  • answer the IR doctor's questions when they check again which medicines you take
  • ask the IR doctor any questions that you may have before you sign the hospital consent form agreeing to the procedure
  • arrange for a family member or friend to accompany you to the hospital
  • ask a responsible adult to collect you after the procedure and stay with you for 24 hours, or contact us if you cannot arrange this
  • drink water until 2 hours before the procedure


  • do not eat or drink anything (except water) for 6 hours before the procedure

We regret that family members or friends cannot stay with you in the recovery area. They need to leave the hospital and return when you are ready to be collected.

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to have a varicocele embolisation, we will ask you to sign a consent form.  This says that you understand what is involved and agree to have the procedure.

You can read more about our consent process.

During the procedure

A varicocele embolisation is a quick procedure, but the whole process takes 40 to 60 minutes. If we treat both sides, this will take longer. 

What happens during the procedure

  1. A nurse takes you into the procedure room. At least 2 nurses, a radiographer and an IR doctor are with you at all times.
  2. You lie on your back for the procedure. The nurses check your blood pressure and pulse throughout the procedure, and make sure that you are comfortable.
  3. You usually have a local anaesthetic for a varicocele embolisation procedure. We clean an area on your neck or groin with antiseptic and cover it with sterile drapes (cloth-like material). Then, we inject the local anaesthetic medicine to make the surrounding area numb and free from pain.
  4. When your skin is numb, we carefully position a thin tube (catheter) into the testicular vein using X-ray guidance. 
  5. We use small, metal coils (loops) and sometimes a special medical foam to block the affected testicular vein.
  6. When the procedure is finished, the IR doctor removes the catheter. To prevent bleeding, they press gently on the area where the catheter was in place for a few minutes. You have a small sterile dressing over the area afterwards. This area does not need any stitches.

How the procedure feels

We inject a local anaesthetic medicine to make the area where we put in the catheter numb. You might feel a small amount of discomfort in this area, or in your lower back or groin. If needed, we can give you stronger pain medicine.

Resource number: 1718/VER7
Last reviewed: June 2024
Next review due: June 2027

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