Cryosurgery is the use of extreme cold produced by a liquid nitrous oxide gas (or, in specific instances, liquid nitrogen) to destroy diseased tissue. The super-cold probe freezes and destroys the immediate and surrounding cells. After cryosurgery, the frozen tissue sloughs off and, in most cases, is replaced partially or completely with healthier scar tissue. Think of cryosurgery as controlled frostbite.
What Can Cryosurgery be Used to Treat?
What are the Advantages of Cryosurgery?
Cryosurgery has many advantages. It can be used when conventional surgery is not possible due to lack of accessibility, or where the likelihood of significant nerve/tissue damage and/or adequate incision closure would not be possible. It is less invasive and patients experience less pain, bleeding and complications, as well as has a shorter surgical time and uses less anesthesia. Minor procedures can often be done using local anesthesia only. In addition to being able to be used on animals that are not good candidates for conventional surgery due to age or other medical conditions, Cryosurgery can be safely repeated if necessary, and can be used in conjunction with standard surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
What are the Disadvantages of Cryosurgery?
Cryosurgery is effective in reaching tissue the veterinarian can see, but it can miss microscopic cancer spread. This may result in the need for repeat cryosurgery, or in metastasis—a generalized spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. The surgical site will slough the destroyed tissue for about 7 to 10 days, so your pet may require an easy-to-clean area at home where he or she can temporarily stay for post-op care and recovery.
Ask your VCA veterinarian if cryosurgery is right for your pet.