Cryoablation Procedure

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Some smaller cancers that cannot be removed surgically without significant risk may be treated by freezing them to death where they live using cryoablation. This technique involves placing thin probes into such a tumor using CT scan guidance. It is done with the aid of mild sedation and local anesthesia.

Once the probes are well positioned, Argon gas is circulated through the probes producing extreme cooling with formation of a very cold “ice ball” surrounding the tumor. A freeze-thaw-freeze cycle is performed that will usually kill all the tissue within the ice ball. The body replaces the dead tissue with scar over time.

This therapy has been effective in treating small tumors in the kidney, liver, lung and adrenal. It has also been effective in helping with pain control in some bone tumors and larger soft tissue tumors.

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • Do not eat or drink anything at least eight hours before the procedure
  • If you take blood thinners, talk to your doctor beforehand about adjusting or stopping this medication
  • Do not take aspirin or other pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen, for five days before the procedure
  • If you have diabetes, ask your primary care doctor about adjusting your insulin dose
  • Bring a list of all your medications and any allergies with you
  • This therapy is almost always done on an outpatient basis at Hartford Hospital
  • Patients are given mild sedation and liberal local anesthesia
  • Ice is a natural anesthetic, so the procedure is usually quite well tolerated
  • Recovery is generally very fast, with many patients being back to a normal routine within a few days

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How Does It Work?

The freezing, followed by thawing, followed by refreezing again destroys the walls of cancer cells within the ice ball by a number of mechanisms.

What Happens — Before, During, and After?

You will be seen in our Farmington office for a consultation with an Interventional Oncologist before the procedure itself is scheduled. This is to be certain this therapy is appropriate for you, and to be sure all your questions are answered.

The morning of the procedure you will be admitted as a same day patient to Hartford hospital. An IV will be started to insure easy sedation. You will be transported to the CT scanner for the procedure.

When the procedure is done you will returned to the radiology observation area where you will be monitored for several hours prior to discharge.

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How Should I Prepare?

When possible, it’s good to have a family member or members accompany you to the consultation so that they also understand the therapy and can better support you during the process.

You will need to make arrangements with a family member or friend to bring you to and from the hospital for the procedure.

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What Should I Bring?

Everything will be provided for you at the hospital, but you may wish to bring reading material and or an MP3 player to pass the time.

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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The risks and benefits of the procedure vary greatly from patient to patient. They will be discussed with you in detail during your office visit consultation. In general, however, this is a low risk, well tolerated procedure which, in some instances, may be curative of small cancers.

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