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Is the laparoscopic Palomo procedure for pediatric varicocele safe and effective?

Nine years of unicentric experience

Abstract

Background

Varicocele is a rare disorder in children that can lead to testicular atrophy and infertility; therefore, radical treatment is frequently required. Whatever treatment is chosen, postoperative complications are fairly common (hydrocele, recurrence, persistence, and testicular atrophy). Laparoscopic varicocelectomy (the laparoscopic Palomo procedure) is one of the surgical options that has recently gained popularity. The aim of this study is to assess the safety and effectiveness of laparoscopic Palomo varicocelectomy by describing a series of patients operated on during a 9 year period at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

Methods

This is a retrospective unicentric study including patients operated on between June 1995 and June 2004. All patients preoperatively underwent ultrasound scan of the testicles (color Doppler) and the abdomen. Indications for surgery included symptoms, high-grade varicocele (grade II and III), and testicular atrophy. Pneumoperitoneum was created using carbon dioxide insufflation with intraabdominal pressure up to 12 mmHg. Three 5 mm ports were inserted. The first port was inserted just below the umbilicus (telescope) under direct vision, and the others were inserted at the left flank and in the suprapubic region. All the enlarged spermatic and vas vessels were ligated or clipped. Outcomes and possible intraoperative, postoperative, or long-term complications are described.

Results

Forty-one patients were included in the study. Ninety percent of symptomatic patients improved significantly postoperatively, and 62% of patients with preoperative testicular atrophy showed postoperative catch-up growth of the involved testis. Nevertheless, hydrocele represents the most frequent postoperative complication in this series of patients. Approximately 15% of the patients required some sort of further surgical intervention (12% because of postoperative hydrocele occurrence).

Conclusions

The laparoscopic Palomo procedure is a safe and effective surgical option for the treatment of pediatric varicocele, although it carries a fairly high risk of postoperative hydrocele. Postoperative hydrocele seems to be related to some sort of lymphatic obstruction, therefore lymphatic sparing procedures that can be accomplished laparoscopically should be reconsidered. Nevertheless, their feasibility and effectiveness need to be more carefully assessed.

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Correspondence to A. Pini Prato.

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Prato, A.P., MacKinlay, G.A. Is the laparoscopic Palomo procedure for pediatric varicocele safe and effective?. Surg Endosc 20, 660–664 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00464-004-2252-x

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Keywords

  • Laparoscopy
  • Varicocele
  • Palomo
  • Hydrocele