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 used to treat cancers, including breast, bone, kidney, liver, lung, and prostate cancer. 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 body. 

How is cryoablation performed?

During cryoablation, a thin needle is inserted through the skin into the tumor under direct CT or ultrasound guidance. A freezing agent, such as liquid nitrogen, is pumped through the needle and delivered to affected tissue.

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 general anesthesia or sedation. Each cryoablation session takes about one to two hours. The majority of patients can return home with an escort the same day of the treatment session.

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 pain or discomfort, bleeding, or injury to other organs.

Cryoablation is a minimally-invasive procedure that is performed through a small, pin-hole sized incision. 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 cancer.

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