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Cervix cryosurgery

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

  • Alternative Names
    • Cervix surgery; Cryosurgery - female; Cervical dysplasia - cryosurgery

  • Description
    • Cryotherapy is done in the health care provider'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
  • Why the Procedure is Performed
    • This procedure may be done to:

      Your provider 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
    • You might feel lightheaded 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 to 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.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • Your provider should do a repeat Pap test 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.

  • References
    • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin No. 140: management of abnormal cervical cancer screening test results and cervical cancer precursors. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(6):1338-1367. PMID: 24264713

      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.

      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: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 28.