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How it Works: Cryosurgery

If you don’t work or study in the medical or surgical fields, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that cryosurgery sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel.

In fact, cryosurgery is an effective, simple and inexpensive treatment used for several different conditions.

Why?

Because it’s the controlled destruction of tissue by freezing, and it’s widely practiced by medical professionals across the world. Cryosurgery, also known as cryotherapy, uses the extreme cold produced by liquid nitrogen to destroy abnormal cells or tissue externally or internally.

For External Use

A popular removal process for common skin lesions, warts or tumours, the liquid nitrogen is applied directly to the targeted cells with a cotton swab, spraying device or by crushed carbon dioxide.  Once the procedure is completed, the frozen tissue thaws, and then the targeted lesion dissolves or forms a scab to heal.

For Internal Use

What makes cryosurgery so unique and effective is its ability to be applied to treat tumours inside the body as well as externally. For internal tumours, including ones inside the bone, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is circulated through a hollow instrument called a cryoprobe which is placed in direct contact with the tumour.

Damage to any nearby tissue is limited because the surgeon will use an ultrasound or MRI to guide the cryoprobe and monitor the freezing of cells. Soon, a ball of ice crystals will form around the probe freezing the cells. These probes are put into the tumour during surgery or through the skin.

Once surgery is completed, the frozen tissue thaws and is naturally absorbed by the body.

Conditions Treated

In modern medicine, cryosurgery is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Internal tumours and tumours in the bone
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Early-stage skin cancers
  • Precancerous skin growths
  • Precancerous conditions of the cervix
  • Early-stage prostate cancer in some cases
  • Primary liver cancer that has not spread

Looking to the Future

Cryosurgery is being used as a somewhat less-invasive treatment as compared to surgery and used to treat cancerous lesions and cells both internally and externally. Researchers are already looking to determine the effectiveness of the procedure in controlling cancer and improving survival rates. Not only that, but researchers are evaluating cryosurgery as a treatment for a number of cancers, including breast, colon and kidney. If this develops into a treatment, it will be exciting to see the benefits this process has on the greater medical community.
At Team Med, we stock a comprehensive range of cryosurgery tools and equipment. For more information browse our selection or simply get in touch with our friendly team today.

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