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Cervical cryosurgery

What is cervical cryosurgery and when is it necessary?

Cervical cryosurgery is a medical procedure during which the abnormal tissues of the cervix are frozen, resulting in tissue death. It is used to treat precancerous conditions of the cervix (CIN I, CIN II, CIN III).

How does cervical cancer develop?

Cervical conization - Cervical cancer
Cervical conization - Cervical cancer

HPV (human papillomavirus) is a group of viruses mainly transmitted through sexual contact. There are more than a hundred known subtypes of HPV which can be classified as carrying low, medium or high risk of cancer. Only certain HPV viruses (such as subtypes number 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 45, 52) are responsible for the development of cervical cancer.

Nearly 80 percent of sexually active woman will be infected with one subtype or another at some point of their lives.

A healthy immune system can defeat the virus within 1-2 years, but it is very important to regularly participate in cervical cancer screening because caught in the early stages, precancerous and even cancerous changes are often treatable. When the presence of HPV is suspected, typing is required, followed by cancer screening every 6 months out of precaution. Fortunately cervical cancer develops slowly, over the course of several years. Regular screening is a very efficient way to prevent cervical cancer, because any abnormalities found during screening can be treated promptly, before cancer develops.

What are the most effective ways to prevent cervical cancer?

  • Receiving HPV vaccine before the start of sexual activity, or at a time when the subtype of the infection that the vaccine protects against is not present in the body
  • Monogamous sexual relationship
  • Practising safe sex
  • Regular cervical cancer screening

What is cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)?

Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia is a precancerous condition in which abnormal cells develop on the surface of the cervix.

The classification of CIN

CIN I: mild dysplasia, spontaneous healing

CIN II: moderate dysplasia, abnormal changes in about one-third to two-thirds of the epithelial layer

CIN III: severe dysplasia, abnormal changes in more than two thirds of the epithelium

How is cervical cryosurgery performed?

During surgery the vaginal canal is opened with a speculum, exposing the cervix. The cryo probe is inserted into the vagina and placed on the cervix in such a way that it covers the abnormal tissue. Compressed gaseous nitrogen (about -50 degrees Celsius) circulates in the instrument, allowing  the metal cool down enough to freeze and destroy the abnormal tissue. The whole procedure takes 3 minutes.

Cervix cryosurgery

Depending on the patient’s Pap smear test results the gynecological surgeon may decide to repeat the process after allowing the cervix to thaw for about 5 minutes.

Cryosurgery is an outpatient treatment, you can leave hospital shortly after the procedure has been completed. You may return to work the following day.

What are the potential risks of the surgery?

Cervical cryosurgery is a painless and fast procedure, that does not carry a risk of any significant complication. However, after surgery you should expect some watery discharge for a few days as your body gets rid of the dead tissue.