Cryotherapy, a procedure that uses extreme cold to treat things such as cancerous tumors, is less traumatic and has a shorter recovery time than open surgeries, advises the Radiological Society of North America. However, there is a risk of damage to the organs and nerves surrounding the treatment area.
Patients who receive cryotherapy usually experience less pain and seldom need overnight stays in the hospital to manage pain, advises the Radiological Society of North America. Cryotherapy only requires a small incision, resulting in less damage to other tissues than patients experience with other surgical options. There are also fewer side effects, and patients can usually resume normal activities within 24 hours of the procedure. Cryotherapy is also less expensive than other cancer treatment options, states the National Cancer Institute.
Cryotherapy does come with some risks. Bleeding, as a result of puncturing and freezing tissue, can occur, states the Radiological Society of North America. Depending on the area treated, surrounding organs may be affected. For example, cryotherapy may cause lung collapse, fluid accumulation in the lung, or damage to the urinary tract or rectum. If nerves are frozen, it may result in numbness and a lack of motor function.
The National Cancer Institute warns that the long-term effects of cryotherapy are unknown and still being investigated. For this reason, some patients may have issues with insurance coverage.