As an advanced treatment option, cryosurgical therapy (also referred to as cryotherapy or cryoablation) uses extremely low temperatures to kill prostate caner cells. It’s just one of several minimally invasive prostate cancer treatments offered at Northwest Arkansas Urology.


Minimally invasive cryotherapy comes with a variety of benefits. The procedure is less invasive and does not cause many urinary side effects as some forms of radiation therapy. Treatment can be performed as an outpatient procedure, which typically allows patients to return home the day of treatment. Recovery downtime is minimal. Most people can return to their regular routines almost immediately. Cryotherapy does have a significant impact on erectile function for most patients. This may not be the most appropriate therapy for you if you are sexually active and are able to achieve quality erections. 

What to Expect

Those who undergo cryotherapy for their prostate cancer diagnosis or recurrence will receive either spinal anethesia or an epidural to numb the lower half of the body. General anesthesia is also an option.

Once the patient has been sedated, the doctor, using a transrectal ultrasound for placement and guidance, places several needles through the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum). Through those needles, extremely cold gases (such as liquid nitrogen or argon gas) are administered in an effort to destroy cancerous cells in the prostate. Further guided by the images of the ultrasound and temperature sensors, the doctor is careful to ensure no unnecessary damage to nearby tissue occurs. The urethra, meanwhile, is kept safe as a warm saline solution passes through a catheter, preventing it from freezing. The catheter remains in place for several days following the completion of the procedure to allow for post-surgery urine elimination.

What does recovery look like?

Cryotherapy works because cancer cells, like all living tissue, are unable to survive extremely cold temperatures. The applied cold instantly draws heat out of the cancerous cells, and the ensuing ice crystals cause the cancer cells to rupture and die.

Since cryotherapy is minimally invasive compared to traditional open surgeries, there is usually considerably less blood loss. That means patients can expect less pain, swelling and discomfort, shorter hospital stays, and a shorter recovery period overall. If necessary, over conventional therapies, including radiation, can follow cryotherapy.

Is cryotherapy right for you? Consult your physician for more information.