Cryosurgery for Minor Skin Disorders

Cryosurgery or cryotherapy refers to the treatment of killing cancer cells by applying extreme cold using liquid nitrogen or argon gas. It is an alternative to conventional surgery for the treatment of cancer.

Cryosurgery is recommended as an alternative to traditional surgery in treating cancers affecting bone (osteoma), soft tissue (sarcoma), and bone and soft tissue (osteosarcoma). The main principle behind cryosurgery is necrosis or death of the tumor cells, resulting from freezing the cells following application of extreme cold.

Surgical procedure

In cryosurgery, the surgeon makes an incision over the cancer site and inserts a hollow instrument known as a cryoprobe. The physician moves the probe so it is touching the tumor inside the body under guidance from ultrasound or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The cryogenic substance, nitrogen or argon gas is then passed through the probe forming ice crystals around the probe end freezing the nearby cancerous tissues. The frozen cancer tissues will then thaw and become absorbed by the body.

Advantages

The advantages of cryotherapy over traditional surgery include:

  • Obviates the need for general anesthesia
  • Minimally invasive
  • Lesser pain and bleeding
  • Fewer complications
  • Lesser recovery time
  • Less expensive

Risks and complications

Complications of cryosurgery include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Chance of cancer recurrence

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