Many women in their late reproductive years develop uterine fibroids, but multiple or large fibroids can cause pain and discomfort in the abdomen or reproductive tract, as well as bloating and infertility. For these women, there are several treatment options, ranging from drug therapies to open surgery. Cryomyolysis is a procedure designed to stop the growth of uterine fibroids (non-cancerous tumors in the uterus) by freezing the fibroid, which kills the tissue and stops it from growing further.
Myolysis is a treatment that destroys uterine fibroids using a laparoscopic device (a small, telescope-like device inserted into the uterus through the abdomen) to stop the blood supply to a uterine fibroid with a laser or an electrical current. Cryomyolysis is a similar treatment, but instead of using a laser or electrical current, cryomyolysis uses a probe to deliver a freezing agent such as liquid nitrogen directly to the fibroid, to cause it to shrink and die. This treatment is used as an alternative to hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) or myomectomy (open abdominal surgery to remove fibroids). The benefits of a less invasive procedure like cryomyolysis include a much shorter recovery time than open surgery options, and though cryomyolysis usually does not preserve a woman’s ability to have children, it provides an alternative for those who are reluctant to lose their uterus entirely.
To undergo the procedure, patients are given general anesthesia, and then a probe called a cryoscope is guided through a small abdominal incision and into the uterus, to the site of the fibroid. The fibroid is then blasted with liquid nitrogen until the tissue and its blood supply are frozen. The procedure usually takes under an hour, and can be done on an outpatient basis, with patients returning home the same day and able to return to normal activities in roughly a week.
Shortly after the procedure and during recovery, patients may experience some cramping in the abdomen, as well as soreness in the abdomen or at the site of the incision, and patients are generally cautioned against strenuous activity during the recovery period. Most of the time, an over-the-counter pain remedy is all it takes to control pain. Cryomyolysis is recommended for smaller fibroids, but not for larger ones, which may need to be removed altogether or treated using another method. Patients should discuss whether this or other options may be more appropriate for their individual case.
Last updated: 06-Jun-07