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Definition

Cervical cryosurgery is the use of extreme cold to freeze areas of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb). It is located at the top of the vagina.

Reasons for Procedure

This procedure is done to destroy and remove abnormal or precancerous cells from the cervix.

Cervix with Pre-cancerous Growth
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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring or narrowing of the cervical opening

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The care team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Taking pain medicine before the procedure
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
  • Whether you need a ride to and from the procedure

Description of Procedure

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 very cold. The tip is touched to abnormal areas on the cervix. It is held there for a few minutes. The tip is removed. This allows the tissue to return to its normal temperature over the course of 3 to 5 minutes. This freezing and thawing cycle may be repeated for each abnormal area on the cervix. The probe and speculum will be removed.

How Long Will It Take?

10 to 20 minutes

Will It Hurt?

Cramping and burning are common after the procedure. Some women may also feel lightheaded or flushed. Medicine and home care help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

After the procedure, the staff will have you lie down for at least 10 minutes.

At Home

The abnormal tissue will shed and flow out of the body in a watery discharge. This will take 4 to 6 weeks. Tampons and sex will need to be avoided.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Vaginal bleeding that soaks more than one pad per hour
  • Foul smelling vaginal discharge

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

National Cancer Institute
http://www.cancer.gov

Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.womenshealth.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
http://www.sogc.org

Women's Health Matters
http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

REFERENCES:

Cryosurgery of the cervix. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/9120-cryosurgery-of-the-cervix. Accessed August 25, 2021.

Management of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and adenocarcinoma in situ. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-cervical-intraepithelial-neoplasia-cin-and-adenocarcinoma-in-situ-ais. Accessed August 25, 2021.

Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardBeverly Siegal, MD, FACOG  Last Updated: 8/25/2021