Cryoablation, also called cryotherapy or cryosurgery, is a procedure in which extreme cold is applied to the tumour using a cryoprobe, a hollow needle-like device filled with argon gas. The gas rapidly freezes the targeted tumour.
The new study and others continue to show, cryoablation appears to be an effective treatment for cancerous kidney tumours. Thomas Atwell, M.D., a Mayo Clinic radiologist and the study's primary investigator, however warned that at this time, it be used only for patients who are not candidates for surgery, because follow-up studies are needed before the procedure can be widely applied.
"This procedure appears to be a good option for some patients," he said.
The general criteria for cryoablation includes the size and appearance of the tumour and the number of lesions in the kidney.
In the study, 89 of 91 tumours were effectively treated in a single treatment session. Patients had tumours that ranged in size from 1.5 centimeters (cm) to 7.3 cm. The average size was 3.4 cm. Follow-up evaluations ranging from three months to two and a half years were available for 62 patients -- all whom remain cancer free at last report.
The standard treatment for kidney tumours is surgery, which is highly effective. For patients who undergo surgery, the hospital stay and recovery period are longer as compared to patients treated with cryoablation.
Patients who undergo cryoablation will have small ž inch incision where the cryoprobe is inserted. The mark is covered with a bandage and recovery usually amounts to one day in hospital, as compared to several days for patients who undergo surgery.
The findings were presented on Nov. 25 at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.