Explaining Cryosurgery and Why Is It Performed?
Cryosurgery is a surgical procedure using incredibly cold temperatures for destroying abnormal tissues like tumors in the body. Liquid nitrogen cryotherapy at a temperature between – 346 ° Fahrenheit and -320° Fahrenheit instantly freezes everything coming into contact with it. Cryotherapy successfully destroys cells in the body upon contact, which is critical when doctors are targeting cancerous cells.
The most common use of cryosurgery is on tumors or precancerous lesions located on the skin. However, tumors inside the body can as well be treated using cryotherapy. Cryotherapy cervix, also known as cryoablation, is a procedure for removing abnormal cells in the cervix. The surgery is performed in the doctor’s office to remove all abnormal cells in one treatment. Advances in cryotherapy techniques have substantially reduced the long-term side effects earlier associated with the treatment. Additional research is needed on the long term side effects and effectiveness of cryotherapy.
Why Is Cryosurgery Performed?
Cryosurgery is useful for destroying problematic tissues in the body, which in most cases, are related to cancer. However, it is not the primary line of justification. Cryosurgery is beneficial when other therapies have proven ineffective, especially if cancer relapses following other treatments.
Treating precancerous lesions on the skin is the reason is why cryosurgery is almost often performed. However, it can also be used on internal organs like the liver when disease or other problems make traditional surgery challenging or risky.
Patients with primary or early prostate cancer find doctors using cryosurgery as an immediate treatment to contain it in the prostate. Cryosurgery may also be performed if cancer returns after other treatments.
Are There Risks Associated with Cryosurgery?
Cryosurgery has its risks, but they are lower than the chances of other cancer treatments like surgery and radiation. Some of the risks associated with cryosurgery are the following:
- Damage to healthy tissues or vessels close by.
- Blisters and infections.
- Loss of sensation if nerves are affected.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Pain, scarring, ulcers, and white skin at the site of the procedure.
Preparing for Cryosurgery
Your preparation for cryosurgery will depend on the type of cryosurgery scheduled. Little preparation is needed on your part if the procedure is scheduled for treating skin cancer, which is the primary reason why cryosurgery is used.
Doctors treating internal organs with cryosurgery will advise you to fast for at least 12 hours and arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure. It would be best to inform the doctor about any allergies to anesthesia affecting you besides any medications you take, including the over the counter variety and nutritional supplements. You receive comprehensive instructions about preparing for the surgery from your doctor, and it is critical that you follow them.
The doctor places liquid nitrogen on your skin using a spray or cotton swab. To prevent any pain or discomfort, numbing medications are used during the procedure.
If cryosurgery is scheduled for treating an internal area, the surgeon uses a scope fitting into various openings of your body like the urethra, rectum, or through incisions. The area under treatment is fed liquid nitrogen and applied to the targeted cells. The liquid nitrogen causes the cells to freeze, die, and gradually absorbed into the body.
Doctors from Lau medical in Chicago, IL, use imaging equipment like ultrasound to guide them when carrying out cryosurgery.
After-Care from Cryosurgery
In most cases, you can return home the same day after the surgical procedure. However, you may be required to remain in the hospital for a few days if cryosurgery was performed on an internal organ.
After the process, you must care for any incision wounds or areas where the skin was frozen. You are provided instructions by your doctor, and the general care involves maintaining the site clean and free from contaminants and changing bandages regularly to prevent infections.
Follow-up appointments are recommended by doctors to determine the success of your treatment. It is also to understand whether you have any complications or will need additional cryotherapy.
Cryosurgery is not a new concept and dates back to the 19th century, describing how local cooling benefits for conditions like pain control. Dramatic progress was made after commercial liquefied gases were introduced to perform freezing procedures in different clinical situations. Cryosurgical methods are minimally invasive, having lower morbidity associated with operational resection. Unfortunately, cryosurgery use is limited because of the lack of proper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of destroying tissues. The surgical application of cryosurgery and its use depends on understanding the mechanisms of freeze injury on cells and controlling the thermal parameters.