Percutaneous Cryoablation for Lung Cancer

Interventional Solutions

perc kid blowing bubbles


Lung cancer is the most diagnosed cancer worldwide for both men and women. While lung cancer incidence rates have been steadily high compared to other types of cancer, the survival rates have shown an increasing trend. This can be attributed to a reduction in smoking, improved screening programs,1 and advancements in treatment options.

Treatment options vary depending on the extent of your cancer, which may be determined through a series of tests to determine how advanced, or at what stage your cancer is. These tests may include X-ray, cat scan (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and/or a bone scan to determine the size, location, and extent of disease. Other factors that may impact your treatment plan include cancer type, other existing health conditions, lifestyle/preferences, and your treatment goals.

At this point, your doctor may have discussed some treatment options for you. These may include some of the following, depending on your clinical presentation: (see glossary for a short description).

What is cryoablation?

Cryoablation, also called cryosurgery, or just “cryo,” is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to freeze and destroy cancer cells with extreme cold temperatures.

What to expect on the day of my procedure?

The physician will prepare the area to be treated and then make a small incision in the skin.

CT and/or ultrasound imaging of the area is used to guide the physician on how best to place the needles or “cryoprobes” to reach the target lesion. Once the cryoprobes are placed, the freezing process begins. The physician can see the “ice ball” growing during the treatment. This helps to determine if the treatment has been delivered according to plan.

Once the cryoprobes are removed, pressure is applied to the incision to stop any bleeding, then covered with a bandage

How long is the recovery?

Percutaneous cryoablation can be performed as an outpatient service, but may require a short, overnight hospital stay.Full recovery may take up to 2 -3 weeks, but individual results may vary.

Advantages of Cryoablation for Lung Cancer

  • Visualization of the treatment area under direct imaging
  • Clinical evidence shows a high local tumor control rate for both palliative and curative intent3
  • Preservation of collagenous architecture for healthytissue repair2,3
  • May be performed under local anesthesia or conscious sedation; associated with less pain3
  • Major complications as low as 0-12% when treating early-stage primary lung cancer3
  • Viable treatment option for patients who are not eligible for surgical intervention due to other medical issues or poor underlying lung reserve

What are the risks?

Freezing is a natural process that is typically well tolerated by the body. As with any medical procedure, there are still potential risks and complications related to percutaneous cryoablation in the lung that your doctor will discuss with you.

A few complications may include cough, skin injury, bloody sputum, shortness of breath, and chest pain with a small percentage of patients requiring intervention.

In most cases, these complications are mild enough that they may resolve on their own. Your doctor will take the necessary steps to monitor any such change during and after your procedure.

How do I decide which treatment method is best for me?

While surgery is the standard treatment in most cases, it is not always an option for some patients. Reasons for this can vary based on other risk factors and/or age. It is important that you understand all the treatments that are available to you. Have a detailed discussion with your physician about your options, including benefits and potential risks, to assure yourself that your treatment plan is best suited for your individual circumstance.


  1. de Koning HJ, van der Aalst CM, de Jong PA, Scholten ET, Nackaerts K, Heuvelmans MA, Lammers JJ, Weenink C, Yousaf-Khan U, Horeweg N, van ‘t 4. Westeinde S, Prokop M, Mali WP, Mohamed Hoesein FAA, van Ooijen PMA, Aerts JGJV, den Bakker MA, Thunnissen E, Verschakelen J, Vliegenthart R, Walter JE, Ten Haaf K, Groen HJM, Oudkerk M. Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Volume CT Screening in a Randomized Trial. N Engl J Med. 2020 Feb 6;382(6):503-513. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1911793. Epub 2020 Jan 29. PMID: 31995683.
  2. Zhang YS, Niu LZ, Zhan K, et al. Percutaneous imaging-guided cryoablation for lung cancer. J Thorac Dis. 2016;8 (Suppl 9):S705-S709. doi:10.21037/jtd.2016.09.42 3. Masanori Inoue, Seishi Nakatsuka, Masahiro.
  3. Masanori Inoue, Seishi Nakatsuka, Masahiro Jinzaki, “Cryoablation of Early-Stage Primary Lung Cancer”, BioMed Research International, vol. 2014, Article ID 521691, 8 pages, 2014. Baere T, Tselikas L.

The procedures and information described on this page are not intended to be a substitute for a physician’s judgment. Only you and your physician can decide which choice is best for you. For more safety information,visit Varian as a medical device manufacturer cannot and does not recommend specific treatment approaches. Individual results may vary. Please consult your physician for more information.