Cryoablation: Cryotherapy, Cryosurgery: Procedure & Outline


Laparoscopic cryoablation is minimally invasive surgical procedure that freezes and destroys small kidney tumors. Cryoablation, occasionally called cryotherapy or cryosurgery, is a minimally invasive treatment (no incisions) that uses extremely cold temperatures to kill cancer tumors.

It is a well-established technology for the treatment of many benign and malignant tumors and lesions, including kidney tumors. Very precise targeting and control of the extremely cold energy allow for efficient destruction of tumor cells while leaving healthy kidney tissue intact and functional.

laparoscopic cryoablation 

Why would someone need laproscopic cryoablation?

Laparoscopic cryoablation is used to treat small (up to 4 centimeters) renal tumors. In appropriately selected patients, it offers an alternative to open surgical or laparoscopic partial nephrectomy.

What happens before a laproscopic cryoablation?

As with all minimally invasive procedures at Cleveland Clinic, your doctor will guide you through the exact process of preparing for laproscopic cryoablation for kidney tumors. However, there are several guidelines to keep in mind. Your doctor will ask you to:

  • Stop taking all NSAIDs, including ibuprofen (Motrin), asprin, and naproxen (Aleve) a week before the procedure
  • Stop taking herbal or other supplements a week before your procedure this includes things like garlic and fish oil.
  • If you're taking Plavix or other blood thinners your doctor will advise you on when or if to stop taking it to reduce bleeding risk
  • Stop eating or drinking anything for 8 hours prior to the procedure
  • If there are medications that your doctor gives you to take prior to surgery, take them with a small sip of water.

What happens during a laproscopic cryoablation?

Unlike a conventional partial nephrectomy, laparoscopic kidney surgery requires only three to four button-hole incisions. Through these incisions, a surgeon uses an endoscope – a tiny camera – and specialized surgical instruments to conduct the operation. With the tip of a freezing probe, the diseased portion of the kidney is removed. Puncture cryoablation, which requires a percutaneous skin puncture to deliver the cryotherapy, is performed under magnified laparoscopic visualization and ultrasound monitoring.

Cryoablation uses very thin cryablation needles to deliver argon gas to chill cancer cells to below -75º Celsius. This kills the cancer cells and a very small margin of the surrounding tissue in a predictable way. This surgery takes approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, and the hospital stay is usually just one day.

What happens after a laproscopic cryoablation?

Full recovery from cryoablation usually takes about two to three weeks, during which patients will be asked to refrain from physically strenuous activity to avoid complications following the surgery. It is usually a good idea to make sure you have some extra help around the house during this time.

Patients who have undergone cryoablation are followed closely with sequential MRI scans at one, three and six months, as well as a CT-controlled needle biopsy at six months.

What are the advantages of cryoablation?

Traditional surgery for tumor removal requires a 10- to 12-inch incision, at a minimum. The minimally invasive technique of cryoablation requires three to four tiny incisions for the surgical instruments.

Cryoablation patients benefit from:

  • Reduced hospital stay (one day) and faster healing
  • Less postoperative pain and less need for pain medication
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Quicker return to normal activity (about a week) and work (about two weeks)
  • Smaller incisions and less scarring
  • Fewer complications
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