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Cryoablation for kidney cancer

B in Indiana
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2013

A couple of weeks ago I had a 2cm malignant tumor removed by percutaneous cryoablation.  For now, the scans show that the tumor was completely frozen and the outlook is good.  My concern is that I have had a consistent swelling (the size of an eggplant) starting at my waist and going almost to the navel.  I am also completely numb in this area.  Even though it is numb, it is also very painful.  The skin is numb but underneath hurts.  The surgery was done through my back.  The doctor said that he has no idea why I am experiencing this.  He thought that perhaps some nerves had been damaged.  He prescribed Ibuprofen 3 and also Gabapentin which is used in eplileptic patients to control their seizures.  He said it would decrease the pain of the nerve endings.  The CT scan does show that part of the spleen was also frozen due to the proximity of the organ.  Not sure if that would have anything to do with my side effects?

So my question is:  Have any of you had percutaneous cryoablation?  Have you experienced any swelling or numbness afterwards?  If so, how long did it last and what did you take/do to make it feel better?

Appreciate your thoughts.

B in Indiana

B in Indiana
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2013

Has anyone had cryosurgery for kidney cancer?  I had this done 4 weeks ago and while the doctors feel that they successfully froze all of the malignant area, I am left with feeling very numb on my left side with a swelling the size of an eggplant.  Is this normal?  Docs said that it might be due to nerve damage.  Does this heal itself?  Very  uncomfortable.

MDCinSC's picture
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I just have no clue.  All my procedures were laparascopic involving nephrectomy.  I  hope someone here can respond.

What does your primary care team have to say?  Good luck!



icemantoo's picture
Posts: 2060
Joined: Jan 2010

You would think that because they named this procedure after me that I would know a lot about it, but that is not the case. This was not in existance 11 years ago when I had my surgery. Now they can get rid of small tumors without surgery. From the little I have read about this surgery it gives the surgeon other options with small tumors although it may not have as high a cure rate as the regular surgery and there are occassional instances where the patient does not take well to the procedure. It definately has its place where there is bilateral kidney cancer or 1 or a part of 1 of the kidney's has been already removed.

Please make sure if you are faced with this option to do a lot of reading and ask a lot of questions.



foxhd's picture
Posts: 2507
Joined: Oct 2011

I am continually surprised at how many people don't understand the insult and trauma the body takes when having such a serious procedure performed. I don't care how the surgery is done. There is bleeding. Swelling. Nerve involvement. Vascular compromise. Necrosis. I have seen thousands of post op people. Recovery takes time. Everyone is different. Some can ignore it and just move on. They amaze me. But 90% can't. Give it time. Some need a year. Alot of them.

I don't mean my first sentance to sound snotty. I meant it in wonderment.

Limelife50's picture
Posts: 458
Joined: Nov 2011

Hey B i had a procedure reffered to as RFA or Radio Frequency Ablation on a 1.4cm tumor in my left kidney in May of 2012.Our procedures are similar to a point where a probe or probes are inserted into the tumor, where me procedure uses radio waves to generate heat to kill the cells within the tumor your procedure i believe consists of lowering the temperature below 40 degrees thus freezing the cancer cells within the tumor.Now both procedure have about the same recovery time which is about one week and after that you should feel normal or at least i did since i was back at work and also resumed my normal activities with no discomfort at all.As always if you are not feeling right call your Radioligist who perfomed the procedure and have this looked at.

roye1951's picture
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2015

My first ablation was radio frequency and didn't work, but felt great a day after.  On 12-18-14 I had cryo due to regrowth of the tumor...apparently didn't get it all.  This time I'm in pain and numb on side.  I can do very little without feeling terrible.



Posts: 10
Joined: Feb 2013

I am not familiar with cryoablation for RCC.  I can tell you that my surgery was an open surgery and I still have numbness on that side and my surgery was done the end of January.  Gabapentin is often used to treat nerve pain.  As a nurse I have given this to patients who have had an amputation, neuropathy and other nerve related issues.  It usually needs to be increased as the patient tolerates and takes a couple of weeks before a person  has relief.

Posts: 44
Joined: May 2011

I had cryo on one tumor on my left kidney.  I was sore for a about 4 weeks after it was done.   It worked great on the tumor,  but most of the pain came from the gas infiltration process where they blow you up like a balloon.   They then found a second tumor that they didnt freeze, so I had it done open partial. 

The swelling that you are haveing is something I didnt have, but the nerve thing I had the skin was numb and the insides were tender.   I wish you the best on your recovery. 

Hang in there and keep talking to your Doctor about your issues.


roye1951's picture
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2015


So happy to find this site.  I had cryoablation on right kidney after papillary renal cell cancer diagnosis.  Surgery was 12-18-14.  I am numb, have swelling and pain/discomfort.  I can do very little without fatigue and pain.  I'm very concerned and hope this goes away with time.



APny's picture
Posts: 989
Joined: Mar 2014

So sorry to have to welcome you here but the people are incredibly knowledgeable, helpful, and supportive. I'm glad you found this site too. I didn't have cryoablation but I would assume that as with anything, it takes time to heal. Your surgery was only a couple of weeks ago so your body is probably still traumatized. Fatigue is not surprising either, both from the physical and psychological side. Feel better!

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2015

I just had a cryoablation of the right kidney as well and have the exact same problem. A large lump on my side going around to the front and just below the rib cage. Constant pain and numbness on the skin ER saw nothing on the xray and CT scan and had no idea what it could be. My doctor is treating me with antibiotics for cellulitis but I've been of Cephalexin for 4 days and there has not been any change. All the symptoms sound like cellulitis and if that's what it is then they better start performing these in a sterile operating room environment. Did it ever go away or did you find out what it was? I'm getting ready to head back to ER. Need an answer asap. Thanks.

Posts: 47
Joined: Dec 2009

I had  cryoablation in 2010. I didn't have any problems. However, I want to say to keep getting scans. Cancer showed up in same spot in 2012 resulting in removal of 1/3rd of kidney. Keep in mind I already lost my right kidney in 2006. I had an excellent surgeon. Then it went to pancreas. Cancer is now in both lungs and liver. Will be starting voltrient v e th soon. Must stay ahead of it.


Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2015

I hope you are well. I am experiencing similar symptoms. Has there been a dx for your symptoms?