Women's Services Encyclopedia
Cryosurgery is a procedure in which abnormal body tissues (sometimes referred to as lesions) are destroyed by exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
Cryosurgery is used to treat skin lesions such as freckles (for cosmetic reasons), hemorrhoids, warts, and some skin cancers.
It is also used to treat precancerous changes on the surface of a woman’s cervix. These precancerous abnormalities are
usually found from a PAP smear. (The lesions are also called “dysplasia,” CIN, or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.) Sometimes freezing
is not an option if the abnormalities are too large.
What happens during the procedure?
Your health care provider will use a probe-like tool to treat the affected areas. A very cold gas, usually nitrous oxide, is pumped through the
probe. The gas makes the tip of the probe very cold. Your doctor will touch with the tip of the probe the affected area. When the cervix is treated
you probably won’t feel the cold sensation. Most women tolerate this procedure well, and leave the office with no discomfort.
What happens after the procedure?
There are usually no complications from this procedure.
- However, occasionally women who are having cervical cryosurgery have hot flushes or faint. If you have cryosurgery of the cervix, you will be
asked to stay in the health care providers office for at least 10 minutes after the procedure.
- Many women have mild abdominal cramping after cervical cryosurgery.
- Many women also have a watery discharge from the vagina after the procedure.
- Some abnormal tissues may need to be treated more than once. Your health care provider will tell you how often you need to be checked for recurrence
or retreatment. You will need a follow-up visit to check healing and to see if any abnormal tissue still remains.
- If you have cervical cryosurgery for an abnormal PAP smear, your health care provider will tell when you should have your next PAP smear. Follow
your health care provider’s instructions for checking back for problems, questions, and your next visit.
What are the risks associated with cryosurgery?
If you are being treated for a cervical lesion, during or after cryosurgery you may experience fainting, hot flushes or lower abdominal cramping.
Call your doctor’s office if:
- The treated area is bleeding or not healing.
- The lesions reappear.
- The treated area develops symptoms of infection (pain, swelling).
- You have abdominal cramps after cervical cryosurgery that last longer than 24 hours.
- You have a foul-smelling vaginal discharge after cervical cryosurgery for longer than your doctor told you to expect.
Back to: Top | Encyclopedia | Library | Women's