What Is the Cervical Cryosurgery Procedure?

Cervical or gynecologic cryosurgery is the surgical procedure of eliminating suspicious tissue or cells in a woman's cervix using extremely cold substances such as liquid nitrogen. The cervix is a tube less than an inch in length that connects the uterus to the vagina. 

What Exactly Is Cervical Cryosurgery?

Cryosurgery of the cervix is just one type of cryotherapy treatment. The surgical procedure is also known as cervical ablation, cryosurgical ablation, or cryoablation. 

For the most part, cervical ablation can be beneficial for women who have the following medical issues:

  • Aberrant tissue or cells that have the potential to become malignant;

  • Cervical carcinoma in situ (also known as stage 0 cancer) and CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia) are two good examples of conditions that require cervical ablation;

  • Irregular cervical bleeding;

  • Complications resulting from human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. The human papillomavirus is known to cause cervical cancer as well as other reproductive system malignancies. Following an HPV infection, these cancers can sometimes take years, if not decades, to emerge. Still, it's important to understand that not everyone infected with HPV will require cervical cryosurgery or acquire cancer. People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to suffering HPV problems. 

Typically, cervical cryosurgery will take place in the comfort of your doctor's office. Furthermore, patients are generally awake throughout the process. 

Before surgery, the healthcare professional may recommend local anesthesia to numb the area, but they may not. Patients may also be given sedatives to help them relax throughout the procedure. 

What Happens During Cervical Cryotherapy? 

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

  • To open the vagina, they will insert a plastic or metal probe known as a speculum into it, just as they would for a conventional Pap test;

  • After that, the provider will place the cryoprobe in the patient's vagina. This is a hollow metal probe that stores and circulates cold chemicals (often liquid nitrogen). The chemical is often extremely cold, reaching as low as -50 degrees Celsius;

  • The specialist will then use the cryoprobe's tip to touch the tissue or cells that need to be treated. The cold tip will contain extremely cold ice crystals, which will freeze the tissue; 

  • Once the abnormal tissue or cells have been identified, the doctor will hold the probe in place until the tissue freezes;

  • They will wait a few minutes and then repeat the ablation procedure if necessary.

What Will Happen After a Cervical Ablation? 

Because the procedure is minimally invasive, patients can leave the office on the same day they are treated. 

And as the previously frozen cells begin to thaw, they will most likely be flushed out through the vagina or absorbed by the body. The leaking chemicals that leave the reproductive system are normally liquid, but they can be thicker in some cases. In addition, the discharge may contain minute amounts of blood. The entire procedure may take many weeks, thus ladies are advised to wear a pad during this time. 

Patients will receive follow-up advice from their healthcare provider. In most situations, women will be tested a few months or weeks following the surgery to ensure that any abnormal cells have been removed. 

Usually, doctors may see the results of the operation via a Pap test or biopsy

When Should I Call the Doctor?

As previously said, cryosurgery is generally regarded as safe, however, problems can occur in rare circumstances. However, if you see any specific warning signals that point to an infection or another issue, you should call your provider right away. This may include: 

  • High fever (above 101 degrees Fahrenheit) and chills;

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding;

  • Severe discomfort extending from the abdomen;

  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge.

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