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RSNA: Varicocele Embolization May Help Infertile Men

But the procedure is most likely to benefit men with a high pre-treatment level of sperm motility

TUESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Varicocele embolization can significantly improve sperm count and motility in infertile men, but those with a high pre-treatment level of sperm motility are most likely to become fathers, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

Sebastian Flacke, M.D., of the University of Bonn, Germany, and colleagues studied 223 infertile men aged 18 to 50, with at least one varicocele who underwent varicocele embolization.

The researchers found that varicocele embolization successfully treated 226 of the patients' 228 varicoceles. After three months, the investigators performed a semen analysis of 173 patients and found that sperm count and motility had significantly improved. After another six months, they found that 45 subjects (26 percent) reported that they had achieved pregnancy with their partners. But they found that the only significant predictor of pregnancy was a high pre-treatment level of sperm motility.

"Sperm motility prior to invasive treatment of varicoceles in infertile men is an important predictor of success and should be considered if effects of embolization are compared to medical treatment," the authors write.

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