A systematic review of clinical practice guidelines and best practice statements for the diagnosis and management of varicocele in children and adolescents

A systematic review was conducted to identify and qualitatively analyze the methods as well as recommendations of Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) and Best Practice Statements (BPS) concerning varicocele in the pediatric and adolescent population. An electronic search was performed with the MEDLINE, EMBASE, Science Direct, and Scielo databases, as well as guidelines’ Web sites until September 2015. Four guidelines were included in the qualitative synthesis. In general, the recommendations provided by the CPG/BPS were consistent despite the existence of some gaps across the studies. The guidelines issued by the American Urological Association (AUA) and American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) did not provide evidence-based levels for the recommendations given. Most of the recommendations given by the European Association of Urology (EAU) and European Society of Pediatric Urology (ESPU) were derived from nonrandomized clinical trials, retrospective studies, and expert opinion. Among all CPG/BPS, only one was specifically designed for the pediatric population. The studied guidelines did not undertake independent cost-effectiveness and risk-benefit analysis. The main objectives of these guidelines were to translate the best evidence into practice and provide a framework of standardized care while maintaining clinical autonomy and physician judgment. However, the limitations identified in the CPG/BPS for the diagnosis and management of varicocele in children and adolescents indicate ample opportunities for research and future incorporation of higher quality standards in patient care.