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Cervix treatment - cryosurgery

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

  • Alternative Names

    Cervix surgery; Cryosurgery - female

  • Description

    Cryotherapy is an office procedure done while you are awake. The vaginal canal is held open so that the doctor can see the cervix. The doctor inserts a device called a cryoprobe into the vagina, and places it firmly on the surface of the cervix, covering the abnormal tissue.

    Freezing cold 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, then the freezing is repeated for another 3 minutes.

    Although you may have slight cramping, cryosurgery is relatively painless.

  • Why the Procedure Is Performed

    Uses of cryosurgery include:

    Your doctor will help you to decide if cryosurgery is right for your condition.

  • Risks

    Risks for any surgery are:

    • Bleeding
    • Infection

    Other risks include:

    • Scarring (cervical stenosis), which may make it more difficult to get pregnant, or cause increased cramping with menstrual periods. However, cryosurgery causes very little scarring.
  • After the Procedure

    The surgery is usually effective. Your health care provider should do a repeat Pap smear or biopsy at a follow-up visit to make sure that the operation successfully destroyed abnormal tissue.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)

    You can resume almost all of your normal activities right after surgery. You may need to avoid sexual intercourse, as well as douching, for several weeks. For 2 - 3 weeks after the surgery, you will have a lot of watery discharge caused by the shedding (sloughing) of the dead cervical tissue.

    You might feel light-headed 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.

Review Date: 2/19/2008

Reviewed By: Peter Chen, MD, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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