Cryoablation is a minimally invasive interventional radiology treatment that destroys tumors through freezing. Computed tomography (CT) imaging is used to pinpoint a tumor. One of our Interventional Radiologists then inserts a thin probe through the skin and maneuvers it precisely into the tumor. An extremely cold gas is pumped through the probe to freeze and kill the tumor cells. Our tumor ablation team is led by Peter J. Julien, MD, Chief of Thoracic Imaging and Director of the Tumor Ablation Program.

Cryoablation is usually effective for localized kidney cancer and some liver and lung cancers. Cryoablation spares healthy kidney tissue and can be repeated, if needed. Most patients go home the same day.

A cryoablation of the kidney performed on a 64-year-old female with a 3 cm renal cell carcinoma. The circle shows where the cryoablation probe was inserted into the kidney, precisely targeting the tumor.

Computed tomography (CT) image of a Cryoablation of a kidney tumor. The Cryoablation probe is vertical and in the circle. The spine is the white object in the left center of the image.

Before Deciding on Cryoablation
  • If you and your physician decide to have Cryoablation at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center, you need to schedule a consultation with one of our interventional imaging physicians and a nurse practitioner.
  • They will discuss the procedure with you in detail, including the risks and benefits, and whether you are a good candidate for this procedure. They will answer any question you may have.
  • If it is determined that this procedure meets your medical needs, the procedure will be scheduled and you will be given a set of instructions to help you prepare for the procedure.
  • During the consultation, the nurse practitioner will ask your medical history, including all of the medications you are currently taking and any allergies you may have.
  • Approximately 1 to 2 weeks before your procedure, you will be asked to stop any medications that thin the blood. Your primary-care physician will instruct you which medications to stop and when to stop them. Do not stop taking any prescribed medication unless instructed to do so by your physician.
  • You may need additional blood tests or additional scans prior to the procedure.
Before Coming To Cedars-Sinai Medical Center For Your Cryoablation
  • Please bring your medications or a detailed list of your medications--including dosage and how often you take the medicine--to your procedure. This includes any over-the-counter medications you may take on a regular basis.
  • You will be staying in the hospital overnight, so please bring anything that you will need during that time.
  • You need to arrange for transportation home after your discharge the day after your Cryoablation; you will not be allowed to drive yourself home.
  • You should not eat anything after midnight the night before your procedure. You may take your routine morning medications (except blood thinners) with a sip of water.
After Arriving At Cedars-Sinai
  • Please check in at the South Tower information desk on Gracie Allen Drive, which is across the street from the Emergency Department.
  • A nurse will then escort you to an observation room.
  • You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and will receive a brief clinical assessment, such as blood pressure and pulse.
During The Cryoablation
  • At the appropriate time, you will be transported to the interventional CT scan room where you will be greeted by the radiology nurse, technologist, the interventional imaging physician and the anesthesiologist.
  • The imaging physician will explain the procedure to you again, including the risks and benefits and answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked to sign a form giving your informed consent for the procedure.
  • If an IV has not been started, the anesthesiologist will start an IV and speak to you about the medications to be used for pain control and to make you sleepy during the procedure (a state referred to as "twilight sleep.") When treating the lungs, the imaging physician may need you to be able to follow simple instructions such as holding your breath. The medications you will be given will most likely prevent you from remembering anything of the procedure, and pain will be controlled.
  • You will be placed on the CT scan table and positioned according to the area of your body to be treated. You will be made as comfortable as possible.
  • Monitoring devices will track your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and amount of oxygen in your blood during the procedure.
  • You may experience some discomfort during the insertion of the Cryoablation probe. You will not feel pain once the probe is in place and you will not feel any heat during the procedure.
  • The procedure, from the time you get to the imaging department (CT scan suite) until you return to the Observation Unit, is approximately 2 hours. The actual freezing of the tumor will only last between 12 and 16 minutes. The bulk of the time is used in accurately placing the probe in the correct area to destroy the tumor.
After Your Procedure
  • You will be given another CT scan while still in the procedure room to assess the area that was ablated.
  • You will then be taken back to the observation unit, where you will stay overnight.
  • You will be visited by the interventional imaging physician and the nurse practitioner, who will check for any complications and see that you are comfortable. You may have post-procedure blood drawn and/or X-rays.
  • Before discharge, the nurse practitioner will arrange follow-up appointments and give you instructions for your recovery. Remember: you will need someone to drive you home from the hospital.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake, and West Hollywood.