What Is Cryoablation?

Cryoblation procedure roomCryoablation is a minimally invasive treatment that uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy diseased tissue, including cancer cells. Physicians use image-guidance techniques—fluoroscopy, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs—to guide liquid nitrogen or argon gas to diseased cells.

How Does the Procedure Work?
Gwinnett Medical Center uses image guidance to insert one or more applicators, called cryoprobes, through the skin to the diseased tissue and deliver liquid nitrogen or argon gas. Living tissue, healthy or diseased, cannot withstand extremely cold conditions and will die from:

  • Ice formation in the fluid outside of the cell, which results in cellular dehydration.
  • Intracellular lethal ice crystal formation, which destroys almost any cell.
  • Bursting from both swelling caused by ice expansion inside the cell or shrinking caused by water exiting the cell.
  • Loss of blood supply. Cells die when their blood supply is choked off by ice forming within small tumor vessels, causing clotting. Because the average blood-clotting time is approximately 10 minutes, the extreme cold is maintained for at least 10 to 15 minutes, unless tumor temperatures indicate that lethal ice temperatures have been reached.

What Are the Benefits?

  • The recovery time following cryosurgery of kidney or liver tumors may be less than for open, surgical removal of the tumor.
  • Cryoablation causes less pain during and after the procedure compared to heat-based treatments such as radiofrequency ablation. Overnight stays for pain control are usually not needed.
  • Percutaneous cryoablation is less traumatic than open surgery because only a small incision is needed to pass the probe through the skin, which limits damage to healthy tissue. Consequently, percutaneous cryoablation is less costly and results in fewer side effects than open surgery. A patient usually can resume activities of daily living 24 hours after the procedure, if not sooner. However, heavy lifting should be avoided for several days after abdominal treatment.
  • For treatment of fibroadenomas, cryoablation causes minimal scar tissue and no apparent calcifications.

Call 678-312-3444 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Lawrenceville, Duluth or Hamilton Mill.