Lovelace Women’s Hospital is Only ABQ Hospital That Offers Cryoablation

Cryoablation is a technique used to destroy fibroadenomas, the most common type of lump found in young women’s breasts. It is a minimally invasive procedure using extreme cold temperatures to destroy the mass.

Dr. Tim Erwin, a radiologist at Lovelace Women’s Hospital performs cryoablation procedures. “These masses become symptomatic, as they are sensitive to the hormones that females produce. Over time, fibroadenomas can increase in size and can become painful, especially during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Patients can feel the lump. The lump is there and though the mass doesn’t go away, it just becomes more sensitive in conjunction with a woman’s cycle,” says Dr. Erwin.

Dr. Erwin mentions that studies have shown there is no connection detected between fibroadenomas and breast cancer. Unlike breast cancer which can spread to other organs, fibroadenomas are confined to the breast tissue. Fibrodenomas are treatable and with the technique of cryoablation, a patient’s symptoms can be completely relieved. Prior to cryoablation, patients were faced with the decision of undergoing a surgical operation or ignoring the tumor.

“The typical treatment of fibroadenomas previous to development of cyroblation was surgical incision, involving a surgical procedure that requires the patient to be under general anesthesia. We now offer this minimally invasive procedure, very similar to a biopsy,” says Dr. Erwin.

Dr. Erwin describes what the patient can expect the day of the procedure once the patient undergoes an initial ultrasound biopsy.

 “The patient is typically with us for about an hour. Once I start, the actual procedure is usually about 30 minutes or so and most of that is the set up. Once I get the probe in a position that I’m happy with, the freeze cycles range from two to five minutes each,” he says.

Dr. Erwin adds, “I find the fibroadenoma with an ultrasound machine and place a special probe under ultrasound guidance and freeze the fibroadenoma(s). If the patient is symptomatic, they are relieved of any symptoms within a few days. Over the following six months, the fibroadenoma is resorbed by the body. Patients have reported had a high level of satisfaction because they don’t have to do surgery with general anesthesia.”

Dr. Erwin includes, “It’s an excellent option, especially because it’s minimally invasive and performed under local anesthesia. And the actual procedure itself is relatively quick. For ladies who are looking to have their fibroadenoma treated, this really offers them a quick and easy way to go about that. We are the only facility in town that provides this service. We have experience with it and excited to offer it.”

To schedule an appointment or for more information about our Breast Care Center, please call 505-727-6900.