KidsMD Health Topics

Varicocele in Children

  • A varicocele is mass of enlarged and swollen veins in the testicle that essentially feels like a bag of worms.

    • A varicocele is generally neither harmful nor painful.
    • Approximately 15 percent of boys have this condition, which almost always occurs on the left side.
    • A varicocele usually develops at puberty, but can occur earlier.

    Surgery or no surgery?

    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.

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