Right varicocele and hypoxia, crucial factors in male infertility: Fluid mechanics analysis of the impaired testicular drainage system

Yigal Gat, Michael Gornish, Uri Navon, Joana Chakraborty, Gil N. Bachar, Izhar Ben-Shlomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

Varicocele is considered a predominantly unilateral left-sided disease. However, since male fertility is preserved with only one healthy testis, infertility perforce represents bilateral testicular dysfunction. It was hypothesized that; (i) right varicocele cannot be diagnosed by palpation and therefore has not been treated in the past by the traditional treatment, and (ii) right varicocele causes impaired oxygen supply in the right testicular microcirculation, leading to germ cell degeneration. This study performed venographies of both right and left internal spermatic veins during the treatment of 840 infertile men with varicocele and analysed the results using tools of fluid mechanics. Histopathology of the right testis revealed stagnation of blood flow and degenerative changes attributed to lack of adequate oxygenation in all testicular cell types. Right varicocele was found in the vast majority of the patients. We found that due to the destruction of one-way valves, pathologic hydrostatic pressure is produced in the testicular venous microcirculatory system about five times higher than normal, exceeding arteriolar pressure. The pressure gradient between the arterioles and venules in the testicular tissue is therefore reversed, leading to persistent hypoxia. Right varicocele, although undetected, is prevalent in infertile men with varicocele, hence only bilateral occlusion of the internal spermatic veins, including the associated bypasses, eliminating the pathologic hydrostatic pressure will lead to resumption of arterial blood flow in the testicular microcirculation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2380
Pages (from-to)510-515
Number of pages6
JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Andrology
  • Hypoxia
  • Male infertility
  • Varicocele

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