History of cryosurgery

Semin Surg Oncol. 1998 Mar;14(2):99-109. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-2388(199803)14:2<99::aid-ssu2>3.0.co;2-1.


The use of freezing temperatures for the therapeutic destruction of tissue began in England in 1845-51 when James Arnott described the use of iced salt solutions (about-20 degrees C) to freeze advanced cancers in accessible sites, producing reduction in tumor size and amelioration of pain. Improved freezing techniques were possible early in the 1990s when solidified carbon dioxide came into use and later when liquid nitrogen and nitrous oxide became available. Nevertheless, cryotherapy was a minor technique, used only for the accessible lesions of skin and mucosa. With the development of modern cryosurgical apparatus by Cooper in 1961, a resurgence of interest in cryosurgery was initiated and techniques for diverse clinical conditions, including visceral cancer, evolved, After the initial widespread clinical trials matured in the 1970s, some applications of the technique fell into disuse while others became standard treatment. Late in the 1980s, further improvements in apparatus and imaging techniques have permitted increased clinical use in neoplastic disease, including visceral cancer.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cryosurgery / history*
  • Cryosurgery / instrumentation
  • Cryosurgery / methods
  • Cryotherapy / history
  • Europe
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced / history
  • United States