Article Abstract

The role of inheritance in the development of adolescent varicoceles

Authors: Luke Griffiths, Vinaya Vasudevan, Amanda Myers, Bradley A. Morganstern, Lane S. Palmer

Abstract

Background: The prevalence of varicoceles is estimated to be 15% in the general population but is nearly 35% among men with primary infertility and increases by 10% with each decade of life. Studies among adults infer a higher rate of varicoceles among first-degree relatives of patients with varicoceles. However, these studies do not consider the presence of varicoceles, or other venous abnormalities, at the time of desired paternity in first-degree relatives of adolescent patients. Our aim was to document the prevalence of varicoceles and varicose veins among first-degree relatives of pediatric patients diagnosed with varicoceles.
Methods: A series of 884 patients between the ages of 17 and 22 diagnosed with a varicocele were contacted and of the responders, permission was asked to discuss family history. Each patient underwent a telephone survey regarding the presence of a varicocele in the father prior to achieving paternity, the presence of a varicocele in brothers in childhood, or varicose veins in the father and mother prior to achieving pregnancy. If a varicocele or varicose vein was present, a history of intervention was surveyed. Descriptive statistics were performed to assess overall prevalence of varicocele and varicose veins in first-degree relatives. Chi-squared and logistic regression analyses were performed.
Results: In total, 152 patients (17.2%) responded and 139 (91.4%) consented to the telephone survey (mean age 19.5±1.84 years old). Overall, 12.9% of fathers had varicoceles and 8.6% of fathers underwent surgical intervention. Among siblings, 18 individuals had a varicocele and 5.6% of siblings with varicocele required intervention. Varicose veins were diagnosed in 7.9% of fathers and 25.2% of mothers; 8.6% of mothers underwent intervention. Surveillance was employed in 76.3% of patients, and surgery undertaken 21.6%. Patients with grade 2 or 3 varicoceles were more likely to have a father with a varicocele than those with grade 1 varicocele (P=0.037). Patients with grade 2 varicocele were more likely to have a father who required varicocele surgery than grade 1 (P=0.019). There was no statistical association of adolescent varicocele and varicose veins in first degree relatives (P=0.306)
Conclusions: This series shows that while a father’s prevalence is similar to that of the general population, higher grade varicoceles were associated with a higher prevalence of varicoceles and surgical ligation. This suggests the existence of a hereditary predisposition to high grade varicoceles. Furthermore, varicocele is not associated with varicose veins in first degree relatives.

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