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About Cryoablation as a treatment for targeted cancer cells

Cryoablation, or targeted cryoablation therapy, is a minimally invasive treatment that uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy diseased tissue, including targeted cancer cells.

This localized treatment is generally used to treat liver, kidney, lung and bone tumors that are 3-5 centimeters or smaller.

Using image guidance and through a small incision in the skin, cryoablation is delivered directly into the tumor by a probe that is inserted through the skin. Cryoablation uses an extremely cold gas to freeze the tumor to kill it. The ice ball that is created around the needle grows in size and destroys the frozen tumor cells.

Reasons for Cryoablation

The interventional radiologists at RIA Endovascular use cryotherapy to treat:

  • Renal (kidney) tumors
  • Pulmonary (lung) and thoracic (chest) tumors
  • Hepatic (liver) tumors
  • Palliative intervention – osteolytic (bone) pain
  • Liver, cervical cancers, especially if surgical resection is not possible

Risks of Cryoablation

Since a needle is inserted into the body, there is a small risk of bleeding and infection both from the puncture and the freezing of tissues such as the liver, kidney or lung.

The following injuries when ultrasound or CT imaging guidance is used are uncommon. Injury to nearby structures, such as the bile ducts, ureter or collecting system, rectum, or bowel is possible. If freezing occurs near the diaphragm, fluid can accumulate in the space around the lungs. If the procedure is in or near the lung, the lung may collapse. Nerve damage may result. Completely frozen nerves can cause motor weakness or numbness in the area supplied by the nerves. If CT imaging guidance is used, you could have an allergic reaction to the contrast material. With CT-imaging guidance, there is also the risk of radiation exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects.

Conditions to Let Us Know About

In advance of your exam, let your interventional radiologist or technologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Previous reaction to iodine/CT or X-ray contrast
  • Coagulation disorder or taking blood-thinning medication
  • Currently pregnant or nursing

Insurance Coverage

Cryoablation is usually covered by insurance. You can check with your insurance carrier to be sure. We have a pre-certification specialist on staff to assist as well.

Locations Where Consultations and Procedures are Performed

Consultations for cryoablation are performed at the RIA Endovascular office at 8200 E. Belleview, Suite #600. If you are a hospital patient, the consultation will be done at the hospital.

The procedure itself is performed at several partner hospitals in the Denver, Colorado area.

Scheduling Your Procedure

To schedule a consultation to discuss cryoablation, call 720-493-3406.

Following are the general preparation guidelines for cryablation. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation.

  • Stop taking blood-thinning medications 3-5 days before the procedure. (Contact your prescribing doctor first to ensure it’s safe.)
  • Do not eat or drink anything except clear liquids for 8 hours before the procedure. Do not drink anything for 4 hours before the procedure.
  • Take routine medications with sips of water.
  • Prepare for an overnight stay in the hospital.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home from the procedure.

What to Expect During Your Procedure

Percutaneous image-guided procedures such as cryotherapy are most often performed by a specially trained interventional radiologist in an interventional radiology suite or occasionally in a hospital operating room.

Before scheduling the procedure, your interventional radiologist will determine if you are a good candidate for cryoablation. We will need medical records and test results from your surgeon or oncologist so your eligibility can be determined. If you appear to be a candidate for this procedure, additional exams including a blood test and a CT scan will be requested to help the interventional radiologist confirm your eligibility for cryoablation, as well as to plan your treatment.

When you come in for the procedure, you will be asked to change into a gown. After answering your questions, a nurse or technologist will insert an parentsintravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm so that sedative medication can be provided intravenously to help you relax and alleviate pain. You may either be given general anesthesia of given conscious sedation. You will be connected to monitors that track your heart rate, blood pressure and pulse during the procedure. The area where the applicators or cryoprobe will be inserted will be shaved, sterilized and covered with a sterile drape.

Using imaging guidance, the physician will insert one or more cryoprobes through the skin to the site of the diseased tissue. Once the cryoprobe(s) are in place, argon gas is delivered to the site. At the end of the cryoprobe, an “ice ball” forms which can be visualized using ultrasound, CT or MRI. The imaging is used to both guide the placement of the probes and monitor the freezing process. At the end of the procedure, the probes are removed. Pressure is applied to stop any bleeding. The skin is covered with a bandage; no sutures are needed. Then the intravenous is removed.

The entire procedure is general completed within 1 to 3 hours. After all the tumors have been treated, you will spend several hours in a recovery area. You may be given medication to control pain and nausea as the sedation wears off. A hospital stay, while not always needed, may be required.

Recovering from CryoablationFamily sitting in hammock

Most patients return to their normal activities the day after the treatment. Patients may experience pain after the procedure, but it usually subsides within a week and is manageable with prescription medication.

Some patients will develop flu-like symptoms, including fever, a few days after cryoablation. These symptoms usually last for a few days.. The fever can be controlled with acetaminophen.

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