Interventional radiologists are able to treat common causes of male infertility when caused by blockages in the body. These minimally-invasive procedures do not require surgery or general anesthesia.
In some cases, male infertility may be caused by varicoceles. A varicocele is a varicose vein in the testicle and scrotum. Throughout the body, veins carry blood back to the heart using one-way valves. When valves don’t work properly, it causes blood to pool and form varicose veins. Varicose veins are most commonly known for occurring in the legs, but can form anywhere in the body.
Among infertile couples, 30% of men have varicoceles according to the Society of Interventional Radiology. An interventional radiologist uses catheter-directed embolization to treat varicoceles. Under local anesthesia, the radiologist uses a catheter placed in the groin area to access the affected vein(s). Similar to treatment of varicose veins in the legs, coils or medicines are used to block blood flow to the damaged veins. The body automatically redirects blood to other healthy veins and pathways.