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What is a CryoProbe&Trade;?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A CryoProbe™ is a medical device designed for use in the treatment of skin lesions, including warts. This device delivers a carefully targeted blast of extreme cold to kill the cells in and around the lesion, in a technique known as cryosurgery. Within a week, the damaged cells will slough off, leaving healthy skin behind. The procedure is rapid and very safe for patients, and can be performed in a hospital, clinic, or even a home visit, as tools like the CryoProbe™ are portable.

Numerous companies manufacture devices for use in cryosurgery. In the case of the CryoProbe™, the device consists of a pen-like applicator with an accompanying cartridge. The cartridge is disposable, and snapped into the device when it is ready to use. The doctor can apply the pen to the lesion and when the procedure is finished, it can be turned off, preserving any material left in the cartridge. The cartridge can be reused to treat another lesion in the same patient, or applied to a new patient after the instrument has been properly cleaned for patient safety.

In cryosurgery, the intense cold is applied very rapidly, causing the cells to freeze suddenly, expanding and bursting because of the water inside. Applying cold slowly or using moderately cold temperatures is not as effective, because cells can adjust to the change in temperature and cell preservation may occur. Preserving the cells is undesirable and can result in needing to repeat the procedure.

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After a CryoProbe™ is used, the patient will develop swelling around the site of the lesion within an hour. The swelling will go down over the course of the day, and in the next few days, the patient will start to notice signs of cell death. Eventually, the dead cells will fall off. It is important to avoid picking or scratching the lesion while it heals, as this can expose the patient to the risks of infection and scarring.

If a physician offers cryosurgery as an option for the treatment of skin lesions, it will be discussed with the patient. Patients may want to ask about the healing times they can expect, given the size and location of the lesion being treated. Knowing about other treatment options can also be helpful, even if a patient ultimately decides to go with cryosurgery. The risks and benefits of each treatment option should be discussed so patients can make an informed choice.

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