Cryoablation, also referred to as Cryotherapy, is a minimally invasive treatment option for early stage, localized prostate cancer. During the procedure, prostate tissue is subjected to freezing temperatures in order to kill cancer cells. Cryoablation can be used as first line treatment, or a second line treatment if cancer is recurrent following initial therapy. Cryoablation is not used to treat cancer that has metastasized beyond the prostate.
How Cryoablation is performed
Cryoablation is performed either in a hospital or surgical center while the patient is under general anesthesia. During the procedure, the surgeon uses ultrasound imaging to guide a thin, needle-like probe into the prostate. This probe is attached to a machine that dispenses extremely cold gas. Once the probe is in place, the gas will be released to target and freeze cancerous cells. The surgeon will carefully monitor the release of gas in order to minimize damage to surrounding tissue.
Prior to the procedure, a catheter containing warm saline will be placed into the urethra. The catheter is kept in place during the procedure to protect the urethra from being damaged during surgery. Following Cryoablation, the patient will go home with a catheter to assist in urination during the healing process. There are no large incisions, stitches or bandages.
Generally, Cryoablation is scheduled as an outpatient procedure. The surgeon will advise the patient if they feel an overnight stay is required.
Risks and complications
As with any medical procedure, men may experience complications afterwards. Following is list of possible side effects:
- A change in erectile function / sexual health
- Changes in urination including leakage, frequency, pain and burning
- Visible blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Penile swelling or swelling in the scrotum
- Changes in bowel function
- The development of a urinary fistula
- Rectal injury