What is percutaneous cryotherapy?

This procedure involves freezing the tumour – to kill the cells in it – via needles inserted into it and a CT scanner for guidance.

Your procedure will be carried out under conscious sedation which means that you will feel no pain, will be sleepy but not completely unconscious, or general anaesthetic in which case you will be completely asleep. Whether you have sedation or an anaesthetic will be decided in the pre-procedure clinic visit when you meet the anaesthetist.

The treatment is performed in the CT scanning suite.

Benefits of percutaneous cryotherapy

Your doctor will discuss the intended benefits of this treatment with you prior to admission. The objective of the procedure is to eradicate the known tumour or to shrink it to minimise the effect it has on you.

Percutaneous cryotherapy risks

The most common and important risks are:

  • Pneumothorax – in other words ‘air in the chest’ – which can act to collapse part or all, of the lung. This happens in about 20 per cent (20 out of every 100) of people who undergo the procedure to some degree, but most do not need any treatment. In those who do, a small drain is inserted into the chest to drain away the air and re-inflate the lung. This will be done either during or after the procedure as required and can be done using local anaesthetic. You may be required to stay in hospital if this happens
  • Haemoptysis – in other words ‘coughing up some blood’ – occasionally occurs in approximately 5 per cent of patients (5 out of every 100) for a day or so after the procedure and is usually stops without treatment
  • Infection – can occur after ablation – this happens in less than 1 in 100 patients with normal lungs and approximately 5 in 100 patients with advanced lung disease. If so, you will be given antibiotics during your ‘pre-med’ and for up to a week afterwards. Please ensure you advise all staff of any allergies you have

Are there any alternatives to this procedure?

There are a number of alternative treatments available, including:

  • surgery
  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • microwave ablation

These should all have been discussed with you at your outpatient appointment, including why it was felt by the multi-disciplinary team that cryotherapy was the most appropriate treatment choice for you. If you have any further questions, please ask your doctor.

What would be the effects of no treatment?

It is likely that the tumour will increase in size with an increasing likelihood that it may spread to other organs in the body.

Meet our thoracic surgery specialists

At Guy’s and St Thomas’ Specialist Care, we have several consultants with expertise in the area who are able to offer percutaneous cryotherapy to private patients.