REVIEW – January 2019

Cryotherapy – a simple and effective method for treatment of skin tumours

Authors: Alina Brokk, Kristi Abram

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Abstract

Cryotherapy, or treatment with cold, involves several different therapies. More specifically, cryotherapy means the treatment of various skin tumours using liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen works on tissues through several different mechanisms of action: osmosis, crystallisation, membrane damage, vascular damage, and apoptosis. The three main techniques are open-spray technique, cryoprobe technique, and dipstick applicator method. Cryotherapy is indicated for treatment of benign skin tumours, precancerous skin lesions, and non-melanoma skin cancer. The aim of the current review was to give an overview of the mechanisms of action of liquid nitrogen on tissues and to introduce different techniques of the application of liquid nitrogen. Recommendations for treatment of different skin tumours, contraindications, and possible side effects of cryotherapy are also presented.