Cryoablation is delivered directly into the tumor by a probe that is inserted through the skin using imaging to guide it internally. Cryoablation uses an extremely cold gas to freeze the tumor to kill it. This technique has been used for many years by urologists in the operating room, but in the last few years, the needles have become small enough to be used by interventional radiologists through a small incision in the skin without the need for an operation. The “ice ball” that is created around the needle grows in size and destroys the frozen tumor cells.
The interventional radiology treatment is less invasive and easier on the patient. This treatment spares the majority of the healthy kidney tissue and can be repeated if needed. The treatment has an excellent safety profile, and most patients are sent home the same day as the procedure or go home the next day. The most common complication is a bruise (hematoma) around the kidney that goes away by itself. These interventional treatments also offer valuable benefits to those patients with advanced or metastatic renal cell carcinoma. While not considered curative for these patients, the lesions can be re-treated as needed.