How is it done?
Cryotherapy or cryosurgery in general, is the procedure of freezing tissue to kill and remove abnormal tissues or growths (warts, etc.) Cryotherapy for treating CIN was used often in the past, but is used less and less these days.
It is a simple procedure. With the help of a special device, the transformation zone area is frozen to minus 68-85 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes. The area is then left to defrost for 5 minutes and the freezing procedure is repeated for 3 more minutes.
After this procedure, the tissue dies and drops off. The patient is warned that over the next days she will have increased vaginal discharge. The area of cryotherapy is covered by new epithelium within 6 weeks.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the method?
It has the following advantages:
- It is cheap and does not require a particularly specialized doctor.
- It is performed without any anesthesia. A painkiller about an hour before the procedure is usually sufficient.
- The volume of cervical tissue that is destroyed is not significant (the risk for premature labor does not increase).
There are, however, significant disadvantages:
- It is not always certain that the tissue will be destroyed deep enough. If the affected tissue is not destroyed and gland crypts remain under the trauma, there is future risk, which is frequently hard to detect with a simple Pap test.
- Stenosis of the cervical opening is much more frequent after cryotherapy (compared to other methods), and occurs in 3-5% of the cases.