Mechanisms of tissue injury in cryosurgery

Cryobiology. 1998 Nov;37(3):171-86. doi: 10.1006/cryo.1998.2115.


As the modern era of cryosurgery began in the mid 1960s, the basic features of cryosurgical technique were established as rapid freezing, slow thawing, and repetition of the freeze-thaw cycle. Since then, new applications of cryosurgery have caused numerous investigations on the mechanism of injury in cryosurgery with the intent to better define appropriate or optimal temperature-time dosimetry of the freeze-thaw cycles. A diversity of opinion has become evident on some aspects of technique, but the basic tenets of cryosurgery remain unchanged. All the parts of the freeze-thaw cycle can cause tissue injury. The cooling rate should be as fast as possible, but it is not as critical as other factors. The coldest tissue temperature is the prime factor in cell death and this should be -50 degreesC in neoplastic tissue. The optimal duration of freezing is not known, but prolonged freezing increases tissue destruction. The thawing rate is a prime destructive factor and it should be as slow as possible. Repetition of the freeze-thaw cycle is well known to be an important factor in effective therapy. A prime need in cryosurgical research is related to the periphery of the cryosurgical lesion where some cells die and others live. Adjunctive therapy should influence the fate of cells in this region and increase the efficacy of cryosurgical techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death
  • Cryosurgery / methods*
  • Freezing
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / pathology
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Microcirculation / pathology
  • Microcirculation / physiopathology
  • Microcirculation / surgery
  • Necrosis
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / surgery
  • Time Factors