[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
March 1981

Complications of Cryosurgery

Author Affiliations

From the Oculoplastic Service, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1981;99(3):460-463. doi:10.1001/archopht.1981.03930010462014

• We describe 70 patients who underwent cryosurgery to the lids during a two-year period. Of the 58 receiving adequate follow-up, approximately one fourth had complications thought to be directly caused by cryosurgery. These include visual loss, lid notching, corneal ulcer, acceleration of symblepharon formation, xerosis, cellulitis, activation of herpes zoster, skin depigmentation, and severe soft-tissue reaction. In addition, 9% of the lids showed possible induction of trichiasis in areas adjacent to treatment. More than two thirds of patients with conjunctival shrinkage or grafted or irradiated lids had adverse effects, with one case of permanent visual loss. Misdirected lashes were successfully eliminated with a single double freeze-thaw technique in 90% of lids treated. Cryosurgery for aberrant lashes and some benign lid lesions is the most effective method of therapy presently available, but one must be aware of its potential complications. It has a low complication rate in "normal" lids, but should be used with caution in patients with conjunctival shrinkage or in those with grafted and/or irradiated lids.

Beard C:  Observations on the treatment of basal cell carcinoma of the eyelid . Trans Am Acad Ophthalmol Otolaryngol 79:664-670, 1975.
Zacarian SA (ed): Cryosurgical Advances in Dermatology and Tumors of the Head and Neck . Springfield, Ill, Charles C Thomas Publisher, 1977, pp 10, 188-211.
Sullivan JH, Beard C, Bullock JD:  Cryosurgery for treatment of trichiasis . Am J Ophthalmol 82:117-121, 1976.
Sullivan JH, Beard C, Bullock JD:  Cryosurgery for treatment of trichiasis . Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc 74:189-202, 1976.
Maumenee AE:  Keratinization of the conjunctiva . Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc 77:133-143, 1979.
Hecht SD:  Cryotherapy of trichiasis with use of the retinal cryoprobe . Ann Ophthalmol 90:1501-1503, 1977.
Fraunfelder FT, Farris HE Jr, Wallace TR:  Cryosurgery for ocular and periocular lesions . J Dermatol Surg Oncol 3:422-427, 1977.Article
Fraunfelder FT, Wallace TR, Farris HE Jr, et al:  The role of cryosurgery in external ocular and periocular disease . Trans Am Acad Ophthalmol Otolaryngol 83:713-724, 1977.
Zacarian SA:  Cryosurgery of skin cancer—in proper perspective . J Dermatol Surg 1:33-38, 1975.Article
Holden HB, Saunders S:  Cryosurgery: Its scientific basis and clinical application . Practitioner 210:543-550, 1973.
Zacarian SA:  The cryogenic approach to treatment of lid tumors . Ann Ophthalmol 2:706-713, 1970.
Gill W, Fraser J, Carter DC:  Repeated freeze-thaw cycles in cryosurgery . Nature 219:410-413, 1968.Article
Zacarian SA: Cancer of the eyelid:  A cryosurgical approach . Ann Ophthalmol 4:473-480, 1972.
Anderson RL, Ceilley RI:  A multispecialty approach to the excision and reconstruction of eyelid tumors . Ophthalmology 85:1150-1163, 1978.Article
Taylor RF:  Modern treatment of severe 'shrinkage of the conjunctiva.' Br J Ophthalmol 51:31-43, 1967.Article
Beyer CK:  The management of special problems associated with Stevens-Johnson syndrome and ocular pemphigoid . Trans Am Acad Ophthalmol Otolaryngol 83:701-707, 1977.
Patten JT, Cavanagh HD, Allansmith MR:  Induced ocular pseudopemphigoid . Am J Ophthalmol 82:272-276, 1976.