Cryosurgery (cryotherapy) is the use of extreme cold in surgery to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue. The term comes from the Greek words cryo (κρ?ο) ("icy cold") and surgery (cheirourgiki – χειρουργικ?) meaning "hand work" or "handiwork". Cryosurgery has been historically used to treat a number of diseases and disorders, especially a variety of benign and malignant skin conditions.

Uses

Warts, moles, skin tags, solar keratoses, Morton's neuroma and small skin cancers are candidates for cryosurgical treatment. Several internal disorders are also treated with cryosurgery, including liver cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, oral cancers, cervical disorders and, more commonly in the past, hemorrhoids. Soft tissue conditions such as plantar fasciitis (Jogger's heel) and fibroma(benign excrescence of connective tissue) can be treated with cryosurgery. Generally, all tumors that can be reached by the cryoprobes used during an operation are treatable. Although found to be effective, this method of treatment is only appropriate for use against localized disease, and solid tumors larger than 1 cm. Tiny, diffuse metastases that often coincide with cancers are usually not affected by cryotherapy.

Cryosurgery works by taking advantage of the destructive force of freezing temperatures on cells. When their temperature sinks beyond a certain level ice crystals begin forming inside the cells and, because of their lower density, eventually tear apart those cells. Further harm to malignant growth will result once the blood vessels supplying the affected tissue begin to freeze.

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