Cryosurgery – Gynaecology Treatment

Introduction – Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery (also called as cryotherapy) is used to destroy abnormal tissue of the cervix by freezing it. Cryosurgery is widely used in gynecology. It destroys some normal tissue also along with the abnormal tissue. Cryotherapy uses very cold liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) which circulates through a probe placed near the abnormal tissue. This freezing is usually done for about 2 to 3 minutes. Some doctors use liquid nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide.

Cryotherapy causes some discomfort, sensation of cold and a little cramping in the patient.It is usually not adequate if abnormal cells are high in the cervical canal. In that case, a cone biopsy is recommended treatment instead of cryosurgery.

Purpose:

1        It should be kept in mind that cryotherapy is not a treatment of cervical cancer. It is done when abnormal Pap test results have been confirmed by colposcopy.

2         Cryosurgery is done to destroy abnormal cervical cells that show changes that can lead to cancer in future. These abnormal cells are called precancerous cells. A term cervical dysplasia can also be used by a gynecologist for these changes.

3        Cryotherapy is more useful and efficient if the endocervical curettage does not show abnormal tissues high inside the cervical canal. When the abnormal cervical tissue is not visible, it can be performed under guidance of colposcopy.

4        Cryotherapy is also used for the treatment of cervicitis or inflammation of the cervix.

Procedure:

  1. Cryotherapy is usually performed by the gynecologist in the office, a clinic, or a hospital as an outpatient procedure. Patient can go home in some time after completion of cryotherapy.
  2. Clothes should be taken off below the waist. A drape is given to cover around the waist. The position for the procedure is lying on the back on an examination table with feet raised and supported by foot rests.
  3. An instrument with smooth, curved blades known as speculum is inserted in the vagina. This speculum is used to gently spread the vaginal walls apart for having a better view of the vagina and cervix.
  4. An anesthetic medication is injected into the cervix to numb it. This is called a cervical block.
  5. The cryo probe with liquid carbon dioxide is taken near the abnormal tissue and it is frozen for 2 to 3 minutes. The process can be repeated for another 2 to 3 minutes after thawing. A single, 5 minute cryotherapy can also be given.

Recovery after cryotherapy:

  1. Most women can return to their regular activity level in a day after the cryotherapy procedure.
  2. There may be mild cramping and watery discharge can occur for a few days which is normal. Sanitary pads should be worn instead of tampons. Regular pain relievers can alleviate the cramping pain.
  3. Sex and vaginal douching should be avoided for at least 2 to 3 weeks.

Side effects:

After cryotherapy, there are possible side effects. These include:

  1. Discomfort
  2. Watery discharge from vagina or spotting
  3. Cold sensation.
  4. Following symptoms should be reported to doctor if they occur:
  • Heavy or prolonged bleeding more than the usual menstrual bleeding
  • Fever
  • Pain in abdomen or pelvis
  • Foul-smelling or yellowish vaginal discharge

Risks:

The risk is failure of procedure. Destruction of the abnormal tissue is incomplete if the abnormal cells are very high in count or if they are too deep in the cervical tissue.

Results:

Cryosurgery is relatively risk-free, producing fewer complications than any other gynecological procedure. It is a very effective technique for destroying abnormal cervical tissue, depending on the size, depth, and type of abnormal tissue. Therefore, it is used widely in treatment of abnormal cells in the cervix.

Cryosurgery is relatively risk-free, producing fewer complications than any other gynecological procedure.
Follow-up with regular pap smear tests is very important after having cryotherapy. Pap tests should be repeated every 4 to 6 months or as recommended by the doctor. Treatment is said to be successful when several Pap test results come normal. Further schedule of pap tests is decided after this.

- Link of interest: Gynaecology News on Twitter

This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.

 

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