What is Cryotherapy or Cryosurgery?
Cryotherapy, also called cryosurgery, cryoablation or targeted cryoablation therapy, refers to the application of extreme cold to destroy diseased tissue, including cancer cells.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
Since the 1960s, cryotherapy has been used to destroy skin tumors, precancerous skin moles, nodules, skin tags or unsightly freckles. It also has been used to destroy retinoblastomas, a childhood cancer of the retina. With the improvement of imaging techniques and the development of devices to better control extreme temperatures, physicians have begun to perform cryotherapy for prostate, liver and cervical dysplasia, especially if surgery is not possible.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
No special preparation is needed to undergo cryotherapy, although some physicians recommend ibuprofen (400 mg) a half-hour before the procedure to relieve minor discomfort.
What does the equipment look like?
Cryotherapy is carried out by using a cryoprobe, a thin wand-like device with a handle or trigger, attached via tubing to a source of nitrogen or argon, which super-cools the probe tip.
How does the procedure work?
Living tissue, healthy or diseased, cannot withstand extremely cold conditions and dies from:
How is the procedure performed?
For external masses, liquid nitrogen is applied directly with a cotton swab or spray device. For internal tumors, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is circulated through the cryoprobe, which comes into contact with the diseased tissue.