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Cervix cryosurgery

Cervix cryosurgery is a surgical treatment to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue in the cervix .

Cryotherapy is done in the doctor's office while you are awake. You may have slight cramping and flushing in the face, however cryosurgery is mostly painless.

To perform the procedure:

  • An instrument is inserted into the vagina to hold the walls open so that the doctor can see the cervix.
  • The doctor then inserts a device called a cryoprobe into the vagina. The device is placed firmly on the surface of the cervix, covering the abnormal tissue.
  • Compressed nitrogen gas flows through the instrument, making the metal cold enough to freeze and destroy the tissue.

An "ice ball" forms on the cervix, killing the abnormal cells. For the treatment to be most effective:

  • The freezing is done for 3 minutes
  • The cervix is allowed to thaw for 5 minutes
  • Freezing is repeated for another 3 minutes

Alternative Names

Cervix surgery; Cryosurgery - female

Why the Procedure Is Performed

This procedure may be done to:

Your doctor or nurse will help you to decide if cryosurgery is right for your condition.

Risks

Risks for any surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Cryosurgery may cause scarring of the cervix, but most of the time it is very minor. More severe scarring may make it more difficult to get pregnant, or cause increased cramping with menstrual periods.

After the Procedure

Your health care provider should do a repeat Pap smear or biopsy at a follow-up visit to make sure that all abnormal tissue was destroyed.

You may need more frequent Pap smears for the first 2 years after cryosurgery for cervical dysplasia.

Outlook (Prognosis)

You might feel light-headed right after the procedure. If this happens, lie down flat on the examination table so that you do not faint. This feeling should go away in a few minutes.

You can resume almost all of your normal activities right after surgery.

For 2 - 3 weeks after the surgery, you will have a lot of watery discharge caused by the shedding (sloughing) of the dead cervical tissue.

You may need to avoid sexual intercourse and using tampons for several weeks.

Avoid douching, because douching can cause severe infections in the uterus and tubes.

References

Lewis MR, Pfeninger JL. Cyrotherapy of the cervix. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowlder GC, eds. Pfenninger & Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 138.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 99: management of abnormal cervical cytology and histology. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;112:1419-1444.

Noller KL. Intraepithelial neoplasia of the lower genitaltract (cervix, vulva): Etiology, screening, diagnostic techniques, In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby management Elsevier; 2012:chap 28.

Martin-Hirsch PPL, Paraskevaidis E, Bryant A, Dickinson HO, Keep SL. Surgery for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD001318.

Updated: 2/24/2014

Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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