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Cryosurgery For Prostate Cancer


Cryosurgery, also called cryotherapy or cryoablation, is surgery to treat prostate cancer by freezing the prostate cancer cells. The prostate is a male sex gland that helps make semen.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Pre-op care: You may be given medicine right before your procedure or surgery. This medicine may make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You are taken on a stretcher to the room where your procedure or surgery will be done, and then you are moved to a table or bed.
  • Monitoring:
    • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
    • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • Anesthesia:
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
    • Regional anesthesia: Medicine is injected to numb the body area where the surgery or procedure will be done. You will remain awake during the surgery or procedure.

During your surgery:

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the area. You will be awake with local anesthesia, but you will not feel pain. A warming catheter will be placed in your urethra. This will help protect the urethra and rectum from the cold temperature. Your healthcare provider will put an ultrasound probe into your rectum to guide the insertion of the cryoprobes (probes or needles). Small incisions may be made in your perineum if large cryoprobes will be used. The perineum is the area between your penis and anus. Six to 30 cryoprobes will be placed into the prostate through your perineum. These cryoprobes are connected to a machine and computer that allows your healthcare provider to control the temperature. Sensors will also be placed to monitor the temperature of the prostate and the structures around it. A cryogen (freezing liquid chemical) will be passed into the cryoprobes until it fills the prostate.
  • Once the cryogen is inside the prostate, your healthcare provider may set the temperature to the freezing point or lower. This forms small ice balls that freeze the cancer cells. Your healthcare provider will then allow the ice to thaw by replacing the liquid with helium. He may repeat the freezing and thawing process to make sure all the cancer cells are killed. When the last thawing is completed, a catheter will be put into your bladder to help drain your urine. The cryoprobes will be removed and any incisions that were made will be closed and covered with bandages.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a recovery room until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. The catheter inserted into your bladder may be left there for 1 to 3 weeks to drain your urine. Ask your healthcare provider for information on how to take care of your catheter.

  • Activity: You may need to walk around the same day of surgery, or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your caregiver says you can. Talk to caregivers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let caregivers know you need help.
  • Take deep breaths and cough 10 times each hour. This will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
  • You will be able to drink liquids and eat certain foods once your stomach function returns after surgery. You may be given ice chips at first. Then you will get liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then be given soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • A Foley catheter is a tube put into your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection or other problems. Also, keep the tube free of kinks so the urine will drain properly. Do not pull on the catheter. This can cause pain and bleeding, and may cause the catheter to come out.
  • Intake and output: Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.
    • Hormone medicines are needed to block male hormones, such as testosterone, that make the tumor bigger. Hormone medicines help shrink the tumor and prevent further problems. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these medicines.
    • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
      • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
      • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


  • Problems may happen during your cryosurgery that may lead to an open prostate surgery. The cold temperature may cause irritation or damage in and around the prostate. Your prostate or other parts of the urinary tract may get injured during surgery. Blood flow or nerves may be affected and cause you to have more problems urinating or having an erection. You may also have swelling, pelvic pain, or a numb feeling down your legs. Even after cryosurgery, all of the cancer cells may not be killed, or the tumor may come back. You may need to have more cryosurgeries or other procedures.
  • You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Cryosurgery For Prostate Cancer (Inpatient Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes