What is cryosurgery?
Cryosurgery is a minimally invasive procedure that capitalizes on the use of extreme cold to eliminate abnormal or infected tissues. In the medical field, cryosurgery was used greatly in treating a variety of skin conditions such as moles, warts, skin cancers, and it has also been used with great success in various internal conditions like liver, prostate, cervical, lung, and oral cancers. Tumors that can be reached by the cryoprobes used in the cryosurgery can be treated, particularly for solid, localized masses that are larger than 1 cm. The principle behind cryosurgery is the destructive effect of freezing temperatures on cells, whereby ice crystals forming inside the cells at very low temperatures can cause them to disintegrate, along with the blood vessels that nourish the diseased tissues.
What methods are used in cryosurgery?
The common methods in cryosurgery include the use of liquid nitrogen, carbon dioxide, Argon, and the combination of dimethyl ether and propane. Liquid nitrogen is a super cooled liquid cooling solution that is often used on lesions and administered through spraying the affected area, circulated through a cryoprobe, or applied directly with a swab. Carbon dioxide is used less frequently, but doctors have used carbon dioxide snow in slush form applied directly onto the treated tissue. The use of Argon in cryosurgery is a result of recent technology advancements that employs the Joule – Thompson effect that allow the doctors to control the delivery of argon gas using ultrathin cryoneedles. Similarly, using a combination of dimethyl ether and propane delivers a freezing effect when used as an erosol spray.
What conditions can be treated with cryosurgery?
Cryosurgery is used to treat men who show signs of early-stage prostate cancer. It is most effective in treating tumors that are confined to the prostate gland and have not spread to other parts of the body. This technique has been found to be convenient for men who are not able to have conventional surgery or radiation therapy because of age or medical limitations.
Primary liver cancer is also one of the conditions that employ cryosurgery. When surgery is not an option, cryosurgery can treat localized tumors in the liver, or help eliminate metastases from other sites.
Precancerous cervical intraepithelial neoplasia may also be treated using cryosurgery to get rid of abnormal cells found in the cervix that have the potential to develop into cervical cancer.
Basal cells, actinic keratosis, and squamous cell carcinomas are all early signs of skin cancer they have also been effectively treated using cryosurgery.