Benefits and Risks
Benefits and Risks
The benefits of cryosurgery are clear. This minimally invasive procedure requires a much shorter period of post-operative rest and avoids the risks and much longer recovery of more invasive procedures.
We have audited our cryosurgery results extensively, and the procedure is successful in more than 70% patients.
To date (October 2018) no patient who has undergone cryosurgery at the Centre for Morton’s Neuroma has experienced a serious or significant complication. In close to a thousand procedures, we have seen only three mild and easily-controlled infections.
Where the procedure has been successful, patients are generally happy to provide feedback by e-mail or phone and we may not need to see them again. Where patients still have some remaining discomfort, we will offer a further treatment, but only after three months have elapsed. If a patient fails to respond to cryosurgery, we generally offer radiofrequency before considering the option of open surgery.
Even though we have found complication rates to be very low, there are a number of possible risks with the procedure. These are further explained in the booklet provided to patients who undergo cryosurgery. The risks are as follows:
In nearly a thousand cases, we have encountered just three infections. These all settled rapidly with antibiotics. Our Centre has a low infection rate in general, and we have never seen serious hospital-based infections such as MRSA and C. Diff.
We have not encountered this at the Centre in the management of Morton's neuroma.
At least 70% of patients experience a successful outcome from a single cryosurgery treatment. Where the first treatment is partially effective, we will usually offer a second treatment, which often resolves the remaining symptoms.
Cryosurgery is very unlikely to worsen your condition. In fact, we consider the risk of complication from steroid injection to be greater.
Complex pain syndrome:
This is a relatively rare condition (affecting just 0.02% of the population) characterised by an abnormal nerve related response to trauma, including surgery. The Centre has had one patient develop a mild form of this condition, but they made a good recovery.
Because of the small incision (2-3mm) we have not encountered painful scarring and it would be highly unlikely to occur.
This is a deep blister that can form following cryosurgery and radiofrequency. It is relatively common in cryosurgery and naturally breaks down with time. Given that the tissues are exposed to extreme cold, a degree of haematoma formation is quite normal.
Stump neuromas can form when a nerve is cut or injured. It is a significant risk in open surgery, but we have not encountered this complication in cryosurgery. In fact, we have successfully treated patients with stump neuroma using cryosurgery.
NB: we attempt to regularly update these pages, but we ask all patients to double check with the Centre for the latest information on our complication rates. This information was last updated in October 2018.
Foot Surgery Booklet
The risks of cryosurgery and podiatric surgery in general, whilst small, are covered in our foot surgery booklet which also describes podiatric surgery qualifications and training.