What is a varicocele? How does a varicocele operation work?

Varicoceles are swollen veins around the scrotum caused by leaky valves inside the veins. Surgery seals these veins so they don’t fill up with blood any more.


What is the Tauber procedure?

This procedure was developed by a German Professor called Tauber. The swollen veins are injected with a substance called AethoxysklerolTM which seals them from the inside. A small incision is made in the upper part of the scrotum. One of the leaky veins is chosen for injection. An x-ray is taken to check the needle position and then the AethoxysklerolTM is injected. The varicocele veins join together so injecting one of them seals the others (see the picture at the end of the information leaflet).

tauber 1sclerotherapy 1








Do I need a general anaesthetic?

We use a general anaesthetic, so you are completely asleep.


How long do you have to stay in hospital?

Surgery is a day-case procedure so you can go home the same day.

What is the recovery time?

We would recommend that you stay off school or work for a couple of days but that doesn’t mean you need to stay in bed. We would like you to start walking around as soon as you are comfortable. Please avoid carrying heavy items and contact sports for 4 weeks. You can have a short shower after 24 hours.

How successful is surgery?

The results from Hamburg in Germany show that the Tauber procedure is successful in 75% of patients. 25% of patients need a second operation because an ultrasound after 6 months shows that the varicocele is still there. The second operation is successful in 100% of patients.

Are there any alternatives?

Key-hole surgery can be used to tie off the veins on the inside of the tummy wall. The surgery is performed using 3 small cuts on the tummy wall. The disadvantage is that surgery takes 2 hours and you may have to stay overnight following the operation.

What are the complications?

· We use dissolvable stitches and glue to close the wound. If the wound becomes painful or red after surgery please see your GP who may give antibiotics.

· One patient in every 50 will develop a small collection of blood around the scrotum. If you have a very swollen scrotum, we would like to review you in clinic. Most of the time the body will absorb small collections of blood but sometimes bigger collections may need to be drained (a minor operation).

· A rare complication is atrophy of the testis, because the blood supply has been damaged. If this occurs it can affect fertility. The risk is low, less than 1 in 100, and we use magnifying device so we can see the blood vessels and avoid this. If this occurs you would know because your testicle would become much smaller in size. We would refer you to the fertility department for advice and treatment if needed. A swollen epididymis can also occur, the risk is low, 1 in 300. The epididymis collects the sperms from the testis (see the picture below). You would know this because your testicle would become painful and swollen. If this happens then we would prescribe antibiotics for you to take for several weeks until it settled down.

How does the Tauber procedure compare with the key-hole alternative?

Primary Tauber

 (1st op)

Secondary Tauber (2nd op) Key hole surgery
Length of surgery 30 minutes 30 minutes 2 hours
Number of cuts 1 1 4
Success rate 80% 100% 88%
Risk of testicular atrophy <1% <1% <1%
Risk of epididymitis 1 in 300 1 in 300 0%
Risk of haematoma 1 in 50 1 in 50 1 in 50
How long will I be in pain? Home after 2-3 hours with regular paracetamol and ibuprofen for several days Home after 2-3 hours with regular paracetamol and ibuprofen for several days You may need to stay in hospital overnight if you are uncomfortable








Where is my epididymis?

Where can I find more information?

Please follow the links to:

Patient information leaflet:

Tauber Procedure Atlas