Cryoablation (cryotherapy) for prostate cancer is a generally safe procedure used to destroy cancer cells in the prostate gland. During the procedure, small needles called cryoprobes are inserted into the prostate gland. The needles pump cold gas (liquid nitrogen or argon gas) into the prostate freezing the prostate and killing cancer cells.
Cryoablation is typically used to treat early-stage prostate cancer. Sometimes it is used when radiation therapy is not effective or when cancer returns after other treatments.
Tell your health care provider about:
- Any allergies you have.
- All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
- Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
- Any blood disorders you have.
- Any surgeries you have had.
- Any medical conditions you have.
- Damage to other structures or organs.
- Allergic reactions to medicines.
- Swelling around the penis or scrotum.
- Bloody urine.
- Problems urinating or having bowel movements.
- Problems getting an erection.
- A hole forming between the rectum and bladder (fistula).
- Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating and drinking, which may include:
- Up to 2 hours before the procedure – you may continue to drink clear liquids such as water, clear fruit juice, black coffee, and plain tea.
- 8 hours before the procedure – stop eating heavy meals or foods such as meat, fried foods, or fatty foods.
- 6 hours before the procedure – stop eating light meals or foods, such as toast or cereal.
- 6 hours before the procedure – stop drinking milk or drinks that contain milk.
- 2 hours before the procedure – stop drinking clear liquids.
- Ask your health care provider about:
- Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
- Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines before your procedure unless directed by your health care provider.
- You may be given antibiotic medicine to help prevent infection.
- Ask your health care provider how your surgical site will be marked or identified.
- You may have tests done, including blood tests and imaging tests.
- Plan to have someone take you home from the hospital or clinic.
- If you will be going home right after the procedure, plan to have someone with you for 24 hours.
What Happens During the Procedure?
- An IV will be inserted into one of your veins.
- You will be given one or more of the following:
- A medicine to help you relax (sedative).
- A medicine to make you fall asleep (general anesthetic).
- A medicine that is injected into an area of your body to numb everything below the injection site (regional anesthetic).
- A small, thin tube (catheter) will be inserted into the part of your body that drains urine from your bladder (urethra) during and after the procedure.
- A small device (probe) will be placed inside your rectum. The probe will make sound waves that create an image of your prostate (transrectal ultrasound).
- A metal grid (template) will be placed over the area between the scrotum and anus (perineum) to be used as a guide for inserting small needles (cryoprobes).
- Several cryoprobes will be inserted into the perineum and guided into the prostate gland using the ultrasound images.
- Cold gas will be pumped through the cryoprobes to freeze the prostate gland. In some cases, only part of the prostate gland will be frozen (focal treatment).
- Warm saltwater (saline) will be pumped through the catheter in your urethra to keep your urethra from freezing during the procedure.
- When the freezing is complete, the cryoprobes will be removed.
- The needle insertion area will be covered with a bandage (dressing).
- Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until the medicines you were given have worn off.
- You will continue to have a catheter draining your urine. You will be instructed about how to care for the catheter at home.
- Do not drive for 24 hours if you were given a sedative.
- You will be given pain medicine as needed.
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider.