This study was approved by our institute review board.
Mean operative time was 35±8 min. There was no intraoperative complication and all patients had uneventful postoperative courses. Patients were discharged from hospital on the same day after surgery. All patients were followed-up in the 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 12th months after the surgery through a physical examination and scrotal Doppler ultrasonography. No recurrent varicocele, testicular atrophy, postoperative hydrocele, or hematoma were observed.
Many surgical and radiological techniques have been introduced for the correction of varicoceles, such as open-high or subinguinal ligation (microsurgical), laparoscopic methods, and sclerotherapy 5,8,9. All these methods have some advantages over one another.
Laparoscopic varicocele surgery was first performed by Sanchez de Badajoz et al.7. The major advantage of the laparoscopic approach is that it provides a direct and magnified view of the structures allowing for the precise identification and dissection 2. However, it is considered to be more expensive and has no proven benefit in comparison with open procedures 9. Currently, laparoscopic varicocele ligation is considered as a good alternative surgical procedure for the repair of varicocele with reported benefits of better convalescence, minimally invasive characteristic, and lesser analgesic requirement 10–12. In our series, we reported our method and encouraging moderate-term clinical outcomes of laparoscopic suture ligation in varicocele treatment.
The advent of laparoscopic surgery has introduced various methods to ligate the varicose veins, such as electrocautery, endoclips, suture ligation, and vessel sealing 5. The factors including surgeon preference, recurrence and complication rates, and cost are important when deciding on the most appropriate approach for a patient 11. In this study, the intracorporeal knot-tying with silk suture was used to ligate varicous veins in the male patients with varicocele.
The main issue in laparoscopic varicocele surgery concerns the ligation of the artery and lymphatics. Using our method, the vascular mass was lifted and ligated without separating the arterial and lymphatic components from the veins. Several studies have found that mass ligation of the spermatic vessels (Palomo procedure) potentially carries the risk for testicular atrophy as a result of artery ligation, and higher incidence of postoperative hydrocele due to lymphatic ligation 4. It has been reported recently that mass ligation of the spermatic vessels offers a safe method to achieve varicocelectomy without compromising the blood supply of the testis 3,5,9,10. In addition, the preservation of artery and lymphatic vessels of testis may help to avoid complications; however, attempts to preserve these vessels, which are intimately attached to spermatic veins, during laparoscopy may extend the duration of the operation and may also carry a high risk for relapse because of the presence of small spermatic vessels that have been overlooked and thus left unknotted 8. We doubly ligated the veins with silk suture as a mass. Moreover, none of our cases showed atrophy, recurrence, or hydrocele in the follow-up period.
Intracorporeal knot-tying with silk method is superior over other methods because of its feasibility, as it can be used for mass ligation of the varicose veins using inexpensive suture material and available laparoscopic instruments without the need for expensive devices 5. In contrast, the apparatus used for ligature – vessel sealing, endostapler, and clips – are expensive and also require 10 mm working ports and a wide incision area. In our series, we performed varicocelectomy with a 3 mm working trocar. It yielded cosmetically better results. It is true that intracorporeal knot-tying is a difficult task in laparoscopic surgery. We thought that the tying could be performed when working ports were placed appropriately.
Tissue reaction to silk suture is another critical issue in this method. Silk – a nonabsorbable suture material – is cheaper and easier to handle as compared with other nonabsorbable suture materials; however, the most marked tissue reaction is associated with this natural suture material. This problem was resolved by adjusting the position of the nodes to the retroperitoneal area. Intra-abdominal adhesions or related complications were not detected in our series.
Our technique is not unique, and several similar methods have been reported previously 13,14. However, unlike others, we did not attempt to divide the vessels after ligation because of the risk for node slippage. Furthermore, in several studies, no transection was reported after clipping or ligation 3,9.
Although the most effective and least invasive method of varicocele treatment remains uncertain, our preliminary results indicate that laparoscopic varicocele ligation carried out with intracorporeal knot-tying is safe and effective and produces cosmetically better results. Therefore, it is a suitable procedure in both pediatric and adolescent patients.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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© 2016 Annals of Pediatric Surgery
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