What is cryoablation?

Cryoablation (also called cryotherapy or cryosurgery) is a minimally invasive treatment technique that uses cold to freeze and kill abnormal cells.  It is sometimes used to treat disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, including esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus. Cryoablation allows doctors to eradicate cancerous and pre-cancerous cells that are buried deep within tissue or located in difficult-to-access parts of the gastrointestinal tract. 

How is cryoablation performed?

During cryoablation, a thin tube called an endoscope is inserted through the mouth and into the targeted area of the gastrointestinal tract. The endoscope is equipped with a camera and lights, allowing the clinician to monitor the procedure on a video screen. A freezing agent, such as liquid nitrogen, is pumped through the endoscope and delivered to affected tissue.

This freezing process is typically repeated over the course of several cryoablation sessions. The treated tissue eventually falls away and is replaced by healthy cells.

What should I expect before, during, and after treatment?

Before you begin your cryoablation treatment begins, your doctor will talk with you about anything that you may need to do to prepare for the procedure. For instance, your doctor may make changes to your medication schedule or ask you to fast.

Cryoablation is typically an outpatient procedure. During each cryoablation treatment, you will be put under sedation. Each cryoablation session takes about thirty to forty-five minutes. The majority of patients can return home with an escort shortly after a cryoablation session.

After the cryoablation session, your doctor may recommend a modified diet. Your care team will give you individualized instruction about post-treatment procedures to follow.

What are the risks and benefits of cryoablation?

Cryoablation is generally very well-tolerated by patients, and most do not experience any significant side effects. Rare side effects include stomach, chest, or throat pain, bleeding, perforation, or ulcers.

Cryoablation is a minimally-invasive procedure that does not require any incisions. When appropriate for a patient’s health needs, minimally-invasive techniques can promote faster recovery time and reduce risks of complications. Cryoablation can be a very safe and effective way to treat esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus.

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To schedule an appointment with a gastroenterology specialist, please call our scheduling line.

Phone: 202-444-8541