Cryoablation Patient Education

Pre-Procedure Patient Information

What is Cryoablation?

Cryoablation is a procedure used to remove abnormal growths or cancerous tissue. This is done by freezing the growth or tissue with either liquid nitrogen or argon gas. This procedure is also known as cryotherapy or cryosurgery.

What conditions should I make sure my doctor is aware of?

Before your exam, you should notify the doctor or nurse of:

  • Any drug/food allergies
  • Any blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) that you are taking
  • Any medical conditions you have
  • If you have an active infection
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Any problems you or your family members have had with anesthetic medications

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, as with any procedure, complications can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Bleeding from the biopsy site. The risk of bleeding is higher if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking any blood thinning medicines (anticoagulants)
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Allergic reactions to medicines
  • Damage to nearby structures or organs, such as damage to nerves, which may cause numbness. This is rare.

About the Procedure

Before the procedure:

  • Your health care provider may want you to have blood tests. These tests can help tell how well your kidneys and liver are working. They can also show how well your blood clots.
  • Do not eat or drink within eight hours of your appointment
  • If you have diabetes and use insulin, you may need to adjust the dosage of insulin the night prior and the day of the procedure. Your primary care doctor can help you with this adjustment.
  • If you are on blood thinning medications, you may need to stop them prior to the procedure. Check with your primary care doctor about when it is safe to stop blood-thinning medicine.
  • Do not discontinue any medication without first consulting with your primary care or referring physician
  • Do not take new dietary supplements or medicines during the week before your procedure unless your health care provider approves them
  • Plan to have someone take you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after you leave the hospital. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the procedure.

The day of the procedure:

  • Make sure you shower on the day of your procedure, washing the anticipated procedure site with soap and water
  • If you were told to take a medication or to continue taking a medication on the day of the procedure, take the medication with a small sip of water
  • Please arrive and register at admissions in the lobby of the hospital at your scheduled time
  • You will be escorted to the prep area, where you will be connected to a machine that will take your blood pressure and your heart rate. You will also have electrocardiogram (ECG) leads placed on your chest to allow us to monitor your heart during the procedure.
  • A nurse will insert an IV into your arm. During the cryoablation, this IV may be used to give you medications. These medications may include medicine to help you sleep and/or relax and help reduce pain. The nurse will also review your medical history and medications, listen to your heart and lungs and make sure you have followed all your pre-procedure instructions.
  • The Radiologist will obtain your consent for the biopsy. The Radiologist will explain the procedure including possible complications and side effects. They will also answer any questions you may have.
  • If you are receiving anesthesia, the anesthesiologist will consent you for the anesthesia. They will explain possible complications and side effects of anesthesia and answer any questions you may have.

During the procedure:

You will usually be asleep during the procedure. You may be given medication through your IV to help you sleep and/or relax and to reduce pain. You will be positioned to allow the best possible access to the cryoablation site. Let the staff know if the position is not comfortable. The access site will be cleansed with a special antiseptic solution. Sterile drapes will be placed. The doctor will inject a small amount of local anesthetic through a very small needle in the skin at the access site. It feels like a pinch and then a slight burning as the local anesthetic starts numbing the skin.

A device called a cryoprobe will be used to treat the growth by freezing it. The cryoprobe has liquid nitrogen or argon gas flowing through it. The cryoprobe will be passed through a thin, long tube (endoscope) to reach the targeted site. The cryoprobe may be guided using imaging, such as a CT scan. Liquid nitrogen or argon gas will be delivered through the cryoprobe to the target site until it is frozen and destroyed. The process may be repeated on other areas depending on how many areas need treatment. The cryoprobe will be removed, and pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding. If an incision was made, it will be closed with stitches (sutures). Your skin will be cleansed and a bandage will be applied.

If a breathing tube was used to help you breathe, it will be removed before you wake up.

After the procedure:

  • If you received anesthesia, you will wake up, often slowly, after the procedure is complete, and will go to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).
  • Sometimes you will be admitted to the hospital after these procedures. If you are to be admitted, you will go to your hospital room after PACU.
  • If you will be discharged following your cryoablation, you will return to the recovery area in Medical Imaging where you will stay for observation for 2 – 4 hours. For specific cryoablations, the recovery time may be longer.
  • You will be asked about your pain.
  • The nurses will review your discharge instructions with you.
  • You will then be discharged home. Someone must drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours.

Can I resume normal activities?

  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Resume your normal diet.
  • There may be other restrictions depending on your specific cryoablation.

What do I do for follow up visits?

Please make a follow up appointment with your ordering physician for follow up care.

Contact Information:

Contact your ordering physician for any questions or concerns to include:

  • Procedure site problems to include:
    • Redness, swelling, or pain
    • Fluid or small amount of blood
    • Pus or a bad smell
  • You have a fever that does not get better with medicine.
  • You feel like you may vomit (nauseous) or you vomit.
  • Your skin becomes itchy or you develop a rash or hives.

Get help right away if:

  • You have very bad bleeding from the cryoablation site.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You are short of breath or have trouble breathing.
  • You feel dizzy or you faint.

These symptoms may be an emergency. Get help right away. Call 911.

  • Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away.
  • Do not drive yourself to the hospital.