Cryoablation of Renal Tumors

What is Cryoablation of Kidney Tumors?

Cryoablation is a minimally invasive treatment for cancer.  During a cryoablation, an Interventional Radiologist uses imaging techniques such as ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) to guide a special needle to the tumor location.  Cooling gas is then passed into the needle (probe) to create an ice ball and to destroy the abnormal cells, sparing the healthy kidney tissue.

How is the Procedure Performed?

At Tufts Medical Center cryoablation of kidney tumors is performed by a specially trained radiologist in the Interventional Radiology department. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis and often you will be discharged home following a recovery period.  The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, so you will be asleep.  

Once you are anesthetized and positioned on the procedure table, the area where the physician will insert the cryoprobes will be cleansed to sterilize the skin.  Your physician will then numb the skin and make a small nick where the cryoprobe will be inserted.  The physician will use ultrasound and CT to guide the probe to the site of the tumor. 

Sometimes another organ like liver or bowel can be too close to the kidney for safe treatment of the tumor. In this case another needle may be inserted that is used to inject saline to push the  other organ further away from the treatment zone. This fluid is absorbed by your body rapidly after the procedure.
 The tumor can then be treated with cryoablative ice, destroying the cancerous cells.  Once the radiologist has treated all of the tumors the probe is removed and a bandage is applied to the site. 

What Should I Expect After the Procedure?

At the completion of the procedure you will be monitored in the recovery room for approximately 4 hours. You may experience some discomfort after the procedure which will be controlled with pain medications given to you through either your intravenous or by mouth.  After you have completely recovered from the procedure and anesthesia you will be discharged home with a friend or family member.  You will be sent home with prescriptions for pain medications and antibiotics. You will also have an appointment to be seen in the Interventional Radiology clinic in about one week. It is expected that you will be able to return to normal activity within a few days after your cryoablation.  

What are the Risks of RFA?

• Infection
• Pain – often in the shoulder
• “Post Ablation Syndrome” – flu-like symptoms occurring 3-5 days after the procedure
• Bleeding
• Injury to the Organs and Tissues near the Kidney
• Freeze injury to the skin