J Reprod Infertil. 2022 Apr-Jun;23(2):84-92. doi: 10.18502/jri.v23i2.8992.
BACKGROUND: Varicoceles are a major cause of infertility. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship of the clinical and ultrasonographic grades of varicocele with the semen analysis profile and testicular volume among men undergoing scrotal ultrasonography.
METHODS: This cross-sectional analytical study involved 109 males undergoing scrotal ultrasonography for various indications in Shiraz, Iran, between January 2019 and January 2020. Varicoceles were graded with color Doppler ultrasonography (CDU) by an expert radiologist (Sarteschi’s criteria) before an experienced urologist determined the clinical grade (Dubin and Amelar criteria) and requested further investigations. Next, the demographics, reasons for referral, testicular volumes, and semen analysis profiles across the different clinical/ultrasonographic grades were compared. Key statistical measures included Cohen’s kappa coefficient, the Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests, and Spearman correlation. Data were analyzed using SPSS v. 21 with p-values <0.05 indicating statistical significance.
RESULTS: Ultrasonographic grades 1 and 2 provided the highest correlation with subclinical cases, while ultrasonographic grades 3, 4, and 5 corresponded with clinical grades 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Further comparisons were made between subclinical and clinical cases, which were similar in terms of reason for referral, total testicular volume, testicular volume differential, and semen analysis profile. Notably, total testicular volumes below 30 ml were associated with oligoasthenoteratospermia.
CONCLUSION: The present study showed a relatively high correlation between varicocele grading based on clinical evaluation and CDU. However, the grades were similar in testicular volume parameters and semen analysis indices. Hence, decision-making should be guided by the infertility history, testicular atrophy, and abnormal semen analysis.