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Cryoablation Treatment for Fibroids

written by: NoreenK • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 10/24/2009

Fibroids can be effectively treated with cryoablation therapy

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    Fibroids and Cryoablation

    Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths on the outside, inside, or within the smooth muscle in the wall of the uterus. In some very rare cases, a rapidly growing fibroid may become cancerous. Fibroids are very common but do not cause symptoms unless they are quite large. Growth is thought to be influenced by the hormone estrogen, which is why fibroids commonly shrink after menopause.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms of fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding and a feeling of pressure in the pelvis. Large fibroids may also cause a distortion in the shape of the uterus and cause pressure on other organs. This pressure may cause indirect symptoms including:

    • frequent urination
    • pain during intercourse
    • abdominal bloating
    • abdominal pain and/or back ache
    • constipation

    Treatment

    Treatment is required when fibroids are extremely large, make it difficult to get pregnant, or cause other severe symptoms. The type of treatment depends on the size and location of fibroids, age of the individual, and whether or not the individual is trying to get pregnant.

    Treatment options include:

    · Surgery

    · High-intensity directed ultrasound

    · Medication

    · Medicated IUD

    Cryoablation or cryotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment that is used to remove fibroids by freezing and destroying the tissue to be removed. The word cryo means "to freeze" and ablate is "to remove." In cryoablation, liquid nitrogen or argon gas is applied to the cells guided by imaging techniques such as ultrasound or CT scans. Once the cells are destroyed, the white blood cells of the immune system remove the dead tissue.

    Cryoablation to treat fibroids and other tissues located inside the body requires a cryotherapy applicator or cryoprobe, a thin wand-like device with a handle or trigger or a series of small needles. The cryoprobe is connected by tubing to a source of nitrogen or argon. Most cryoablation units use argon gas and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Your physician may recommend minor painkillers before this procedure to relieve discomfort and a course of antibiotics after the procedure to protect against infection. Aspirin and other blood thinners should not be taken for some time before and after undergoing cryoablation.