The pampiniform plexus is a loose network of small veins found in the human male spermatic cord. The plexus begins in the scrotum with veins arising from the mediastinum testis. The veins of the plexus ascend along the spermatic cord at the front of the ductus deferens. The pampiniform plexus is crucial for regulating the temperature of the testes, by acting as a heat exchanger to cool blood. The arteries supplying the testes run through the plexus where the blood is cooled from abdominal arterial temperature to testicular temperature. The walls of the plexus veins are constituted by a complex muscle structure that is responsible for the propulsive mechanism allowing antigravitational blood flow towards the left renal vein. The anterior section of the plexus coalesces to form the internal spermatic vein, which passes through the inguinal canal and ascends into the retroperitoneum. Male infertility or testicular pain may often be associated with a varicocele, which is an abnormal distension of the pampiniform plexus. Varicoceles are caused by retrograde blood flow or impaired drainage of the testicular or internal spermatic vein. Varicoceles are the most common, treatable cause of male infertility.
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In Depth: Pampiniform plexus