Objective. Varicocelectomy has long been a therapeutic modality used in the treatment of male infertility. In the past decade, adolescent varicocelectomy has become a frequent procedure to preserve testicular growth and to help prevent future infertility. Because our clinical population includes a large portion of orthodox Jews who traditionally marry early and are forbidden to use birth control by religious law, we thought that by studying our patients, we might be able to accelerate our follow-up regarding paternity. In addition, we wanted to learn whether adolescent varicocelectomy might have any negative impact.
Methods. Questionnaires inquiring as to the marital and paternity status, postoperative course, and complications were sent to 50 patients who had undergone a unilateral or bilateral varicocele repair during adolescence and who were at least 21 years old at the time of this review. In addition, a careful chart review was performed to examine the perioperative and postoperative parameters of each respondent.
Results. Of the 43 responses (86% response rate), 18 of 18 patients who had attempted to father a child were successful. The remaining 25 were not married or had never attempted to father a child. In the paternity group, 10 of the fathers had undergone an Ivanissevich repair; the remaining 8 had a Palomo repair. Sixteen of the 18 had unilateral varicocelectomies, and 2 underwent bilateral repairs. Of those with a unilateral varicocele, the indication for surgery in 10 was a grade 2 to 3 varicocele associated with a >20% volume difference when compared with the right testicle. Three had 10% to 20% volume loss, whereas the remaining three had unusually large grade 3 varicoceles without concurrent volume difference.
Conclusions. Varicocelectomy in the adolescent population has been proposed as a therapeutic intervention to preserve both fertility and testicular growth. Although not showing a cause-and-effect relationship, it is our contention that varicocelectomy in adolescence at worst does no harm and at best preserves fertility.