Monash medical student reveals best treatment approach for common paediatric disease—varicocele

Final year Monash medical student Sarthak Tandon was invited to present his research findings into varicocele management at the prestigious European Association of Urology in Copenhagen last week.


The event is Europe’s largest scientific meeting in urology, with over 14,000 participants from more than 100 countries.


Sarthak undertook his research as a BMedSc(Hons) student in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) in 2017. His research focuses on the management of varicocele in children and adolescents.


“Varicocele is a relatively common disease but also one of the most controversial areas in paediatric medicine—it’s associated with male infertility and debilitating chronic pain in adults,” Sarthak said.


“There are various different surgical techniques used, with mixed results and with some techniques associated with a higher percentage of disease recurrence than others.”


“At present there are 1,750 publications in the literature, evaluating more than 20 different techniques with unclear overall outcomes.”


While most of the techniques are minimally invasive, either laparoscopic (keyhole surgery), radiological or optical magnification, Sarthak’s research aimed at clarifying which techniques have the best outcomes.


Sarthak and Dr Daniel Bennett (who graduated in medicine from Monash University last year) performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the scientific literature of the last 20 years.


“We found that laparoscopic surgery and optical magnification offer the best results, with minimal complications compared to the radiological technique,” Sarthak said.


“We will use this information for patient counselling: following our review we can now clearly discuss with the patients which procedure is best for them but most importantly offer clear expectations regarding the outcome of surgery.”


Sarthak said it’s very exciting to have the opportunity to present at an international conference and Copenhagen will be his first experience delivering a presentation at an academic meeting.


“Working on this study has provided me with an excellent insight into the research methodology required to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis, and to provide some insight into an evolving surgical sphere,” Sarthak said.


Sarthak acknowledges and thanks his co-researcher Daniel Bennett and project supervisors Mr Maurizio Pacilli for their assistance and advice in conducting the study. He also wishes to thank his BMedSc(Hons.) supervisors, Mr Ram Nataraja and Mr Peter Ferguson, for their support and guidance over the past year.


The research team will earn more frequent flyer points when they present another paper about optical magnification at a urology scientific meeting in Japan next month.