Cryosurgery — What is it?

Ever been to the dermatologist showing off all your skin imperfections and they hit you with a cold blast of forced air? Sometimes shocked at the surprising cold pressure on your skin. The first time it happened, I was startled since there was no warning or conversation about why and what was about to happen. Maybe because I over explain procedures to my clients it felt strange to me. We all have different bedside practices, and in this case, surprise was this dermatologist’s method. The liquid nitrogen comes out at over 250 degrees below zero. It freezes deeply and should prevent further growth in the future. Occasionally the lesion or growth will need an additional freezing depending on the size and thickness of the lesion or growth.

We purchased a CryoPen a few years back to use in the clinic for such purposes. This is the only cryosurgical system that does not require gasses or liquids to operate. This tool is reliable and easy to use. Of course, we can explain to the owner what we are about to do, but the poor patient will have a surprise once we press the trigger. In the following photo you can see the instrument and the growth we are freezing on this patient. The second photo shows the frozen growth.

The dog is awake for this procedure. Most do not move while using the CryoPen. We freeze and then let it thaw and then freeze a 2nd time. A growth such as this would require additional CryoPen procedures to remove it completely. We do the 2nd one 2 weeks after the first. If additional treatments are needed, we will schedule them as needed.

Many clients find this more desirable than placing a pet under anesthesia to remove growths. We are willing to use this, but it does have its limitations. We have used it for eyelid tumors that are small and not ulcerated, lick granulomas, skin growths, small anal growths, etc. Most pets do require additional treatments after freezing. We did have an eyelid growth that disappeared but returned about 6 months later. Therefore, it is not 100% curative in some situations. We leave the decision up to the owner as to what their personal preference would be.

The next time you notice a small dermal growth on your furry friend feel free to ask us about cryosurgery. It might be the best option for your pet. This is another tool we use to practice Veterinary Medicine.