Center for Thoracic Oncology
Cryoablation or Cryotherapy
At the Center for Thoracic Oncology at Boston Medical Center, we specialize in many of the latest and most effective cancer treatments, including esophageal cryotherapy. Our team of highly trained and experienced specialists work together to treat you. We draw on medical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, and a patient-centered environment to provide you with not only the best medicine but also the best medical care in New England.
Cryoablation, sometimes called cryotherapy, is a minimally invasive treatment used to destroy diseased cells in the esophagus caused by esophageal cancer and/or Barrett's Esophagus. For cryoablation, a physician inserts a small, flexible, lighted tube with a video camera attached to it (called an endoscope) through your mouth and into your esophagus.
Once the endoscope is in place, liquid nitrogen is sprayed through the endoscope into the esophagus. The liquid nitrogen freezes the lining of your esophagus. The frozen cells die and are replaced by healthy cells. Cryoablation is used to treat Barrett's Esophagus with high-grade dysplasia, and some early stage esophageal cancers. It can also be used to improve symptoms of advanced cancers. These symptoms include difficulty in swallowing and bleeding.
How to Prepare
Tell your doctor if you have any allergies to medication or have had problems with anesthesia. Your doctor will give you any specific instructions about dietary or activity restrictions, as well as whether or not you should take your regular medications on the day of the procedure. Before treatment starts, your doctor will prescribe a medication that decreases stomach acid, such as Aciphex (rabeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole), or Prilosec (omeprazole).
You will have cryoablation every three to eight weeks. The exact frequency depends on the specific problem in your esophagus and how it responds to the freezing treatments. Treatment ends when your doctor can find no abnormal tissue. You will be asked to not eat or drink after midnight on the night before your procedure. You may wish to ask a friend or family member to drive you to your procedure.
What to Expect
For the procedure, your doctor will examine the lining of your esophagus with an endoscope, by passing the endoscope through your mouth and throat. After the evaluation, your doctor will spray liquid nitrogen through the endoscope, destroying the diseased cells. After spraying the diseased cells, your doctor removes the endoscope and the cryotherapy is completed. The cryotherapy procedure takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area until you are awake and alert. Because of the use of a sedative, you will not be able to drive and should arrange for a ride home.