[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
August 10, 1979

New technique measures depth, extent of cryotherapy

JAMA. 1979;242(6):505-508. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300060007003

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


A simple but ingenious device for measuring the precise depth and shape of the ice ball created in cryosurgical procedures promises to dispel some of the remaining doubt associated with this space-age technique.

While cryosurgery now is widely used in dermatology, urology, gynecology, and other specialties, one of the primary drawbacks to the technique has been uncertainty about the extent of tissue being frozen.

It is well understood that differently shaped cryoprobes create a variety of ice balls in tissue, and only long clinical experience enables the surgeon to accurately manipulate freezing times using the full range of ultracold temperatures.

Now a new measurement system, based on the fact that water in normal tissue—but not frozen tissue— conducts electricity, takes much of the guesswork out of cryosurgery, at least as applied to external and oral lesions.

The system was developed by Setrag A. Zacarian, MD, a dermatologist and president of