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Cryoablation

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Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Your Cryoablation?

In the unfortunate case, you need cryoablation treatment, you can discuss everything you need to know about the procedure with Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital’s radiologists. Our specialists will professionally guide you through the details about cryoablation. You will find out how cryoablation will occur, the success rate for your case, possible side effects, how to prepare for the procedure, and what are the aspects of the cryoablation from which you can benefit. More importantly, our highly skilled specialists can help you determine if you are a good candidate for cryoablation or if there are other possible treatment solutions for your specific health needs.

Cryoablation refers to methods through which diseased tissues can be destroyed using extremely low temperatures. The tissues that have been affected by cancer or other diseases are removed or shrank by freezing. This procedure is commonly used to treat tumors found in various organs like the lungs, liver, prostate, kidney, and breasts.

Three examples of mechanisms that can occur in the frozen cells by performing ablation:

  • Within the malignant or problematic cells, ice crystals are formed. This will disrupt the metabolism of the cells in the tissues ablated
  •  Ischemia, or the death of the cells ablated by the coagulation of blood. This means that the blood that flows to the cells is stopped
  • Apoptosis being induced to the cells, which is known as programmed cell death cascade

Cryoablation is a minimally invasive procedure. It is performed with the help of one or more cryoprobes. A cryoprobe is a thin hollow needle and through it, a fluid that is thermally conductive circulates.

Using imaging for the guidance of one or more cryoprobes, these needles are inserted directly into the malignant or problematic tissues. When the cryoprobe takes contact with the tissues that are targeted for the cryoablation procedure, it is rapidly cooled. This removes the heat from the targeted tissues by pumping nitrogen or argon gas through the cryoprobe. Living tissues, including cancerous tissues, cannot endure extremely low temperatures.

Before cryoablation, you will need to discuss your medical history with the healthcare provider, including the medication you have been taking lately. Blood-thinning medication will be excluded from your treatment for approximately one or two weeks before cryoablation.

Your doctor might ask you to do various tests, like blood tests or scans, to fully prepare for the procedure and increase the success rate and safety.  

The procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis because cryoablation allows the patient to recover faster than in the case of open surgery for tumor removal.

The zone of the cryoablation can be easily monitored during the procedure because frozen tissues are visible under magnetic resonance, ultrasound, and computed tomography.

Compared to heat-based ablation methods, cryoablation is usually less painful, the freezing of tissues creating an anesthetic effect. This means, the patient on whom cryoablation is performed, does not need anesthesia. In most cases, moderate sedation is enough.

Another benefit of cryoablation is that the procedure of freezing the malignant or problematic tissues doesn’t affect most of the good cells in the vicinity of the targeted cells. That means that the damage to healthy tissues is kept to a minimum. Also, the procedure can be repeated many times if necessary.

For a full recovery after cryoablation, patients might need two to three weeks. In this period of time, it is better to take care and rest, don’t engage in any strenuous activities, and have someone help you around the house if needed.

The recovery time can also depend on the type of cryoablation performed, on the patient’s general health state, and on possible complications.

The risks for patients after cryoablation are rare, but because this procedure requires the penetration of the skin, it can lead to infections in some cases. The patient can experience discomfort or even low-intensity pain in the area treated.

Here is a list of possible risks of cryoablation depending on the area or organ treated:

  • When the nerves are treated, motor weakness or numbness can occur in the area supplied by the nerves
  • If the lungs are treated, pneumothorax can occur, which is the collapse of the lung, or there is the risk that fluids can accumulate around the lung
  • A damaged bile duct or bleeding can happen in some cases of liver treatment
  • For a kidney treatment, there are the risks of heavy bleeding or damage to the urine collecting system
  • Treating the abdomen may cause a hole in the bowel
  • Diaphragm treatment of tumors can cause fluid to gather around the lungs

Your healthcare provider can help you alleviate possible pain or symptoms occurring after cryoablation by prescribing you medication. If something doesn’t work for you or there are other symptoms occurring, please contact the healthcare provider for guidance.

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