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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: 2464
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: 2938
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: 460
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: 1252
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: 2
Joined: Aug 2016

I am experiencing the very same thing after 10 days post op. Did you ever get a resolution? What was it? Any info greatly appreciated... Hope you are doing better by now. Thank you.

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2016

Hi All, 

I had cryoablation done on my left kidney in May 2016. The morning after surgery I had a huge swollen buldge on the left front side of my abdomin. I was in a lot of pain for weeks. When the initial swelling went down approx a month later there was no more pain just a buldge about the size of a tennis ball in my side. I have had a CT scan and MRI and they show no scarring, no fluid nothing. The doctors have no idea what it is. It is now September and it is still here and does not want to budge. It feels like a balloon inside me. Which leads me to beleive that it is air or gas. I see that some of you had these symtoms. Did you figure out what it is? Thank you,

Posts: 48
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?

Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2016

I too had the surgery 3 mo. Ago and have a very large hump on my side.I think it is my kidney swollen to the size of a large egg plant.Someone please post what is causing this swelling and what If anything can be done to remove it

Teashea's picture
Posts: 89
Joined: Feb 2016

Surgery through the back is very painful. My rcc mets to my left femur bone. I was in surgery within 3 days. Dr Lewis did cryoablation then put a titanic rod down my leg. Recovery took time and some physical therapy. All in all I am very pleased with the turn out. Best wishes and God bless you.

Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2016

I'm still have the swelling after 3 mos.Does anyone have any ideas about what is causing this swelling?all all my Dr.says is he thinks it is alose of musel and to use  some kind of wrap until the musel begin to work again.well that tells me that he has no idea what is causing this terrible swelling.Does anyone have any idea whars causing this.I think I might see my attorney in hope that the hospital we take this matter a little more serious.

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2016

Like several others on this site, I just had a cryoablation procedure For a 4.3 cm kidney mass. I carefully selected the doctor who I thought had the most experience in this area. I asked for all the side effects that could occur. But a large lump, described by others as the size of an eggplant, was never mentioned until after the fact when I was told this happens in about 5% of the time. I was told it could have been nerve damage, that COULD go away in about a month. If not I would probably need to do exercises to strengthen the muscles that have been made weak from the nerve damage. I'm not certain this makes any sense to me. Also, I don't see where any doctor gives a definitive response to this particular issue.

nancybuck's picture
Posts: 117
Joined: Sep 2015

Had cryo a year ago October 2015. Been asking for any info but no one here had any input at that time. Well, I now see that it seems like more people are going the cryo route for removing small cancers. I have suffered with muscle damage since the day of my surgery. It has been a long and painful year. Finally, a pain management doctor decided to try the drug Toprimate (sp) which is used to treat people who suffer with seizures, etc. Well, the medication has helped some. I still have pain, but the medication give me a small amount of relief for which I am quite greatful.  I will go in for my one year post diagnosis scans early January. Starting to suffer scanxiety.

To all of my many acquaintences here I just wanted to say hello. I have been gone for a while. Having lots of other health issues which I would rather not get into and for which none of you need to hear about anyway. You all have so much to deal with yourselves. However, I think of you often and I am going to try to visit more often, since I quite honestly, missed you.

Wanting to wish everyone here a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you blessings this year are many.

Be well friends.

Nancy B.


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