by Editorial Staff And Contributors
The cervix is the lower portion of the uterus (womb) that is located at the top of the vagina. Cervical cryosurgery is the use of extreme cold to freeze areas of the cervix.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
This procedure is done to destroy and remove abnormal cells of the cervix, particularly precancerous cells.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare. However, no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have this procedure, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. These may include:
Factors that may put you at risk for complications during this procedure include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
You may want to plan for someone to drive you home.
Normally, no medicines are needed for this procedure. However, pain medicines such as ibuprofen (for example, Advil), naproxen (for example, Aleve), or acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) are usually taken. They should be taken about an hour before your appointment. Ask your doctor if this is recommended for you.
Description of Procedure
You will lie on an exam table with your feet in foot rests, as you would for a pelvic exam. A device called a speculum is inserted into the vagina to hold it open. The cryosurgery probe is inserted into the vagina. Nitrous oxide makes the tip extremely cold. The tip is touched to abnormal areas on the cervix. It is held there for a few minutes. You may feel some cramping. The tip is removed. This allows the tissue to return to its normal temperature over the course of 3-5 minutes. This freezing and thawing cycle may be repeated several times for each abnormal area on the cervix.
You will remain lying down for at least ten minutes after the procedure. Some women may feel dizzy and/or flushed after the procedure.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
Will It Hurt? TOP
You will probably feel some cramping during the procedure. Some women also describe a burning sensation.
Post-procedure Care TOP
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
The abnormal tissue of the cervix should shed and flow out of the body in a watery vaginal discharge over 4-6 weeks. In some cases, more than one cryosurgery session may be scheduled.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
National Cancer Institute
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Cryosurgery of the cervix. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 2, 2009. Accessed December 19, 2012.
Gay C, Riehl C, et al. Cryotherapy in the management of symptomatic ectopy. Gynecol Obstet Fertil. 2006;34(3):214-223.
Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC. Procedures for Primary Care Physicians. St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book, Inc; 1994.
Sankaranayanan R, Rajkumar R, et al. Effectiveness, safety and acceptability of see-and-treat with cryosurgery by nurses in a cervical screening study in India. Br J Cancer. 2007;96(5):738-743.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Last Updated: 1/15/2014