Purpose: Since clinically apparent varicoceles may affect testicular volume and sperm production, early repair has been advocated. However, repair of the pediatric varicocele with conventional nonmagnified techniques may result in persistence of the varicocele after up to 16% of these procedures. Also testicular artery injury and postoperative hydrocele formation can occur after nonmagnified repair. The microsurgical technique has been successfully completed in a large series of adults with a dramatic reduction in complication and recurrence rates. We report our experience with the microsurgical technique in boys. Materials and Methods: A total of 30 boys (average age 15.9 years) underwent 42 microsurgical varicocelectomies (12 bilateral). All patients had a large left varicocele. Indications for repair included testicular atrophy (size difference between testicles of greater than 2 ml.) in 20 boys, pain in 5 and a large varicocele without pain or testicular atrophy in 5. Six boys were referred following failure of conventional nonmicrosurgical techniques. All boys were examined no sooner than i month postoperatively (mean followup 12). Results: Preoperative volume of the affected testis averaged 13.0 ml., and an average size discrepancy between testicles of 2.8 ml. was noted before unilateral varicocelectomy. No cases of persistent or recurrent varicoceles were detected, and 1 postoperative hydrocele resolved spontaneously. After unilateral varicocelectomy the treated testes grew an average of 50.1%, while the contralateral testes grew only 23%. Overall, 89% of patients with testicular atrophy demonstrated reversal of testicular growth retardation after unilateral varicocelectomy. In contrast, both testes showed similar growth rates after bilateral varicocelectomy (45% left testis, 39% right testis). Conclusions: The meticulous dissection necessary to preserve arterial and lymphatic supply, and to ligate all spermatic veins in the pediatric patient is readily accomplished using a microsurgical approach, and results in low recurrence and complication rates. Rapid catch-up growth of the affected testis after microsurgical varicocelectomy suggests that intervention during adolescence is effective and warranted.
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