Cryoablation is a technique used in the treatment of chronic pain, and is used primarily as an option when a patient has no found success with medicinal intervention. It has also seen use as a viable technique when other treatment procedures, such as implants, are not available to the patient.
What is the Cryoablation process?
The cryoablation technique is centered on the insertion of a hollow needle -typically gauge ten or twelve IV cannula- to allow for the delivery of a special probe into the area designated for treatment. A gas –most often nitrous oxide or liquid nitrogen- is then passed through this probe, and allowed to freely expand in order to cool the gauge. This cooling process gradually forms a ball of ice at the end of the probe. The size of the ball varies depending on the length of time the gas is allowed to expand.
The ball of ice formed from this probe is the key to providing Pain Relief for chronic ailments. The extreme cold that the ball of ice delivers to the surrounding tissue causes them to become damaged, but not to be fully destroyed. This freezing procedure also leaves the myelin sheath (and other surrounding supportive structures), of the nerve intact allowing for the reversal of the process, if so desired.
The damage introduced to the nerve from the cryoablation technique disrupts the membranes of cells and the production of proteins. Rapid water loss due to freezing assists in the disruption of the nerve cells. This process disrupts the ability of the nerve to function preventing its ability to send pain signals to the brain. Cryoablation used for direct pain relief can have effects lasting anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, depending upon the size of the area treated and on the susceptibility of the patient to this technique.
What are the benefits of Cryoablation?
The primary advantage in using cryoablation for pain relief is the longevity of the treatment. It is also notable that the ability to have it reversed exists, if the need arises. The recovery timeframe of this technique is also relatively small, as a patient can most often return to their normal level of activity after only a single day of rest. Cryoablation can be repeated as needed to continue the effects of the pain relief.
Despite being considered an invasive surgery, the risks from the technique are minimal. This is due to the only invasive portion of the treatment is the insertion of a needle, providing a minimal chance for bleeding and infection.