What Is Cervix Cryosurgery or Cervical Cryosurgery? 

Cervical or gynecologic cryosurgery refers to the surgical process of destroying suspicious tissue or cells in a woman’s cervix with the help of extremely cold chemicals such as liquid nitrogen. The cervix is a tube no longer than an inch, which can be best described as the lower part of the uterus, connecting to the vagina. 

In this article, the expert staff at ACE OBGYN will discuss the procedure in detail. We’ll talk about the cases in which gynecologic cryosurgery is necessary, what the patient should expect during and after the procedure, and other essential information about this surgical intervention. 

To find out more, please, read on. 

About Cervical Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery of the cervix is only one example of cryotherapy treatment. The surgical procedure may also be called other names, like cervical ablation, cryosurgical ablation, or cryoablation. 

For the most part, cervical ablation can be helpful for women who are dealing with the following medical issues:

  • In cases where there are abnormal tissue or cells that have the potential to turn cancerous. Cervical carcinoma in situ (also referred to as stage 0 cancer) and CIN or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia are good examples that will call for cervical ablation. 
  • When women experience irregular bleeding from the cervical area.
  • Complications due to the consequences of human papillomavirus infections, or HPV. The human papillomavirus is known to cause cervical cancers and other malignancies in the reproductive system. Often, the development of these malignancies can take years to develop (often even decades) following an HPV infection. Still, it’s essential to know that not all people who were infected with HPV will need cervical cryosurgery or develop cancer. Typically, people with weak immune systems are more prone to HPV complications and are more likely to develop complications from the infection. 

Young Woman Patient at Gynecologist Appointment Consults in Medical Institution

Cervical Cryotherapy: Procedure Details

What to expect before the surgical intervention? 

Typically, cervical cryosurgery will take place in the comfort of your healthcare provider’s office. Also, patients are generally awake during the intervention. 

Before surgery, the healthcare provider may recommend using local anesthesia to numb the area, while in other cases, they may not. Sometimes, patients may also be administered a sedative to help them relax during the process. 

Additionally, providers may also offer a warm blanket or two to the patient to make the experience as comfortable as possible. 

Procedure Details: What Happens During Cervical Cryotherapy? 

Fortunately, cervical ablation takes only a few minutes to perform. Patients will be asked to lie down on the exam table while their healthcare provider will: 

  • Use a plastic or metal tool, referred to as the speculum, that they will insert into to vagina to open it, just like in the case of a regular Pap test. 
  • After that, the provider will insert the cryoprobe into the patient’s vagina. This is a hollow metal probe that contains and circulates cold chemical (often liquid nitrogen). The chemical is usually extremely cold, going as low as -50 degrees Celsius.
  • The expert will then use the tip of the cryoprobe and touch the tissue or cells that require treatment. The cold tip will have extremely cold ice crystals on it and will freeze the tissue. 
  • Once the problematic tissue or cells are located, the doctor will hold the probe in place until the tissue freezes.
  • They will wait a few minutes and repeat the ablation process if required.

What Will Happen Following Cervical Ablation? 

Because of the minimally-invasive nature of the treatment, patients are able to leave the office the same day they receive the treatment. 

And while the previously frozen cells start to thaw, they will likely get flushed out via the vagina or get absorbed by the body. The leaking substances that leave the reproductive system will typically be watery, but they may also be thicker in some instances. Furthermore, the discharge may contain small amounts of blood. The entire process may last for several weeks, so women are encouraged to wear a pad during this period. 

Regarding follow-ups, patients will receive instructions from their healthcare provider. In most cases, women will undergo a test a few months or weeks after the procedure to see whether all the suspicious cells were destroyed. 

Usually, providers are able to see the results of the procedure with the help of a Pap test or biopsy. 

The Advantages of Cervical Cryosurgery

As you can see from the procedure details, cryosurgery of the cervix is a less invasive intervention than traditional types of surgery. As such, it involves less bleeding and less pain and can minimize the risks of complications. Furthermore, it requires less time to perform, and the recovery process is also a lot quicker than in the cases of more extensive interventions. 

Also, the ablation process won’t cause damage to nearby tissue. And if needed, cryotherapy can be combined with other treatment methods or repeated. 

Possible Side Effects and Complications 

Unfortunately, all intervention types carry some degree of risk, and cryotherapy is no different. While cryotherapy won’t interfere with the ability to get pregnant and is considered safe, in some patients, it may cause:

  • Pain and cramping
  • Fainting
  • Infection
  • Vaginal spotting
  • In rare cases, it may lead to cervical stenosis, a condition in which the cervix gets scarred.

Young Woman With Stomach Pain

Effectiveness and Recovery

On a more positive note, the procedure is typically effective in about 90% of cases, and the abnormal cells won’t return following surgery. On that end, if they do form again, cervical cryotherapy can be repeated, or another treatment might be recommended. 

Also, recovery time is surprisingly short with cryotherapy: most patients can return to their daily routines immediately after surgery. Still, it’s essential to consult your provider about potential time off and any restricted activities just to be on the safe side. 

Doctors may recommend refraining from using tampons and having sex for a few days or even weeks to promote healing and prevent the chances of getting an infection. 

When to Call the Doctor?

As mentioned above, cryosurgery is considered safe but may lead to complications in rare cases. That said, you should contact your provider immediately if you experience specific warning signs that can signal a possible infection or other problem. These may include: 

  • A fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Chills
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Severe pain radiating from the abdomen
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

Learn More About the Procedure From Experts

Cervical cryosurgery is used to destroy precancerous cells in your cervix. In other cases, it may help with unusual cervical bleeding. This quick procedure utilizes extremely cold chemicals and a probe to freeze the problematic tissue and cells. Typically, it’s an effective, safe procedure that grants speedy recovery. 

To learn more about it, schedule an appointment with our experts today.