What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Cryotherapy for prostate cancer is done in the hospital. You may be given a general anesthetic so that you're unaware during the procedure, or your doctor may numb only the surgical area with a local or regional anesthetic.

Once the anesthetic takes effect, your doctor:

  • Places an ultrasound probe in your rectum.
  • Places a catheter inside the tube (urethra) that transports urine from your bladder out of your penis. The catheter is filled with a warming solution to keep the urethra from freezing during the procedure.
  • Inserts several thin metal probes or needles through the area between the scrotum and the anus (perineum) into the prostate.
  • Watches the images generated by the ultrasound probe carefully to ensure correct placement of the needles.
  • Releases argon gas to circulate through the probes or needles, cooling them and freezing nearby prostate tissue.
  • Carefully controls and monitors the temperature of the needles and the amount of freezing within the prostate gland.
  • May place a catheter into your bladder through your lower abdomen (suprapubic catheter) to assist in urinary drainage after cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy for prostate cancer takes around two hours.

After cryotherapy for prostate cancer

You'll likely be able to go home the day of your procedure, or you may spend the night in the hospital. The urinary catheter may need to remain in place for about two weeks to allow for healing.

Cryotherapy for prostate cancer usually results in very little blood loss. You may be sore and bruised where the rods were inserted and have blood in your urine for several days following the procedure. You may also have temporary bladder and bowel function problems. These problems usually resolve over time.

Sexual dysfunction, including impotence, is common in men following cryotherapy. In many, these problems persist long term.

Apr. 26, 2013