Cryoablation Patient Education

Cryoablation Patient Education

Cryoablation Patient Education

Once your oncologist, surgeon or primary care provider determines that you are a candidate for cryoablation, Northwestern Medicine interventional oncology radiologists and nurses join your care team.* They review your history, CT scan, MRI or PET scan, as well as any lab work you have had done. A physician and nurse meet with you and explain the procedure, the benefits and risks, and answer any questions you have. They will assist you in scheduling this procedure.

Cryoablation is usually done in a CT scan machine. You will be given conscious sedation (twilight sleep) or be placed under general anesthesia (completely asleep) by an anesthesiologist. The decision for this will be made by your physicians, and will depend upon the size and location of the tumor to be treated and your current health status.

Before the procedure

Do not have anything to eat or drink after midnight on the day of your procedure. If you normally take medication in the morning, talk with your physician about whether to do so that day. If you do, take your pills with small sips of water only.

Please leave all valuables such as jewelry, credit cards and money, at home. Family members may wish to bring a magazine or book to read while they wait.

After checking in with reception, you will fill out some medical history forms that also ask about any medications you are taking. You’ll wait in the reception area until you are called for the procedure.

An Interventional Radiology team member will bring you back to the prep and recovery area. One family member may come with you. After you’ve changed into a surgical gown, a nurse will take your vital signs, start an IV in your arm, and give you fluids or medications as needed.

A physician will speak to you to get your consent for the procedure and answer any questions you have. If you are having general anesthesia, you will meet the anesthesiologist at this time, who will also answer your questions and get your consent.

Once you are prepared for the procedure and have given consent, you will be taken to the procedure room. A radiology technologist and the interventional radiologist will be waiting for you, and will remain with you for the length of the procedure.

During the procedure

In the procedure room, the nurse will help you lie on the exam table. You will be connected to heart and blood pressure monitors. Depending upon what type of sedation you are having, IV medicine or anesthesia will be given to you to help you relax. The area to be treated will be cleaned with a special soap and covered with sterile sheets.

Using CT or ultrasound imaging, your physician will locate the cancerous mass to be treated and insert a cryoprobe through your skin into the tumor. Your physician will freeze this area for approximately 10 minutes and then let the area rest for eight minutes. He or she will then re-freeze the area for an additional 10 minutes. Throughout the cryoablation procedure, your physician will be able to see the area being treated on the CT or ultrasound machine. At the end of your procedure, one more CT scan or ultrasound image will be taken to evaluate the treatment area.

After the procedure

Once your cryoablation procedure is over, you will move to the recovery area. A nurse will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and the site where your procedure was preformed. Let the nurse know if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort at this time. After one to two hours of recovery, you will be discharged to go home with prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications, as needed.

In rare instances, an overnight stay in the hospital may be required if you need additional monitoring.

After discharge

  • Resume your regular diet.
  • Drink at least six 8-oz. glasses of water over the next 24 hours. Water helps to clear the dye used during the procedure.
  • On the day you leave the hospital, limit your activities. You may resume all other daily activities 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Do not engage in any physical exercise or heavy lifting (greater than 10 lbs.) for the next three days.
  • Do not drive for 24 hours after the procedure.

When to call your physician

Contact your physician if you have:

  • Swelling or bleeding at the puncture site
  • Fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Redness, increasing tenderness or discharge at the puncture site

Follow-up care

Six weeks after your cryoablation procedure, a CT scan, MRI or other image will be taken to be certain the treatment has been effective. You will also have blood drawn and be scheduled to see your interventional radiologist to review your blood work and images.


In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.