Cryoneurolysis: The Use of Tiny Ice Balls as Therapy For Nerve Damage Greatly Reduces Pain

By Rebecca Lewis on April 15, 2013

Neuralgia or nerve damage, a very painful condition usually caused by diabetes, surgery or a traumatic injury, may be relieved using a minimally invasive tiny ball of ice – a procedure called cryoneurolysis.

Over 15 million people from Europe and America suffer from neuralgia, according to the lead author William Moore, M.D., medical director of radiology at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. Because there is no specific cure for this debilitating condition, patients often rely on the use of medications or painkillers which are often ineffective and only provide short-term pain relief.

In the current study, Moor and his group tested the impact of cryoneurolysis in patients with neuralgia. 20 patients received the treatment and were evaluated using a visual pain scale questionnaire before and after the treatment. Follow-up evaluations were conducted immediately after treatment and after one week, one month and three months.

Prior cryoneurolysis, the level of pain the patients experienced reached 8 from a scale of 1 to 10. It was substantially reduced to 2.4 just one week after the treatment. Pain relief was sustained in about two months after the procedure. Then, pain increased to 4 after six months due to nerve regeneration.

Moore recommends undergoing cryoneurolysis several times as needed. However, some patients may experience pain relief for up to one year even after just a single treatment, he added.

What is Cryoneurolysis?

Cryoneurolysis is an interventional radiology treatment that involves ‘freezing’ the nerve to relieve pain. It uses a small probe that is cooled to reach a temperature of -10 to -16 degree Celsius. The freezing temperature interrupts the pain signal to the brain and eliminates pain while allowing damaged nerves to regenerate. During the procedure, an interventional radiologist makes a nick in the skin near the source of pain. Then, he inserts a tiny probe about the size of an IV needle. The probe, powered by pressurised gas, is advanced through the skin to the affected nerves. It then creates ice crystals along the edge of the nerve. This freezing along the edges of the nerve cells prevent the pain signals from going out and reaching the brain, thus, the patient does not feel anything.

While this new technology promises long-term solution for the pain caused by neuralgia, Moore calls for more additional comparative studies to strengthen their findings.

 

Source of this article:

Prospective Evaluation of Cryoneurolysis for Refractory Neuralgia

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