Current status of spray cryotherapy for airway disease

Ryan F. Moore, Deacon J. Lile, Abbas E. Abbas


The use of liquid nitrogen to treat skin and mucosal lesions is well understood in the dermatologic and gastrointestinal literature. Direct spray cryotherapy (SCT) in the airway has shown promising results in the treatment of esophageal premalignant and even invasive lesions. In the airway, several studies have shown it to be a safe, effective treatment for both benign and malignant disease. It is easily administered in the outpatient setting and can be repeated several times without undue side effects. In this article, we review the current literature on the use of SCT for the treatment of endobronchial lesions and also describe our own institutional experience of the use of SCT in the airway. The use of proper technique and airway venting is important in mitigating the complications of barotrauma from massive expansion of nitrogen upon conversion from the liquid to gaseous state. We also review some of the basic science principals behind the use of the cryotherapy to treat lesions in different tissues. We feel that SCT is a potential area for further research at both clinical and basic science level.