Kidney Tumors


Specialized Radiologists:

Specialized Radiologists:

Brian Christenson
Brian Christenson, MD

We can be reached at the following numbers:

During Business hours
(406) 237-5490

During Non-Business office hours
(406) 237-7000 and ask the switchboard to be connected with the radiologist on call.

What is tumor cryoablation?

Tumor cryoablation is a procedure that uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy cancer cells. Cryoablation is used to treat tumors of the kidney.

How is tumor cyroablation done?

A needle-like applicator will be placed in contact with the tumor, more than one applicator may be used depending on the tumor size and location. Dr. Christenson will use ultrasound and other x-ray imaging to guide the applicator(s) to the treatment site. Once the applicator is in the correct location, Dr. Christenson will administer argon gas to create intense cold in the tumor. Some tumors may require more than one freeze cycle. At the end of the procedure, the applicator(s) will be removed and pressure will be applied to the site then a bandage will be applied.

What needs to be done to get ready for tumor cryoablation?

  • We will contact you the day before your procedure to review important instructions and answer any questions you may have.
  • It is important that we know if you have ever had a reaction to contrast (x-ray dye).
  • If you take blood-thinning medicines like Coumadin, Lovenox, or Plavix, we may ask you to stop taking those medicines 3 to 9 days before your procedure. We will give you instructions on this.
  • You may need blood tests done before your procedure. We usually will draw your blood when you arrive for your procedure. Sometimes we need to know your blood test results beforehand, and we will let you know if we need you to go in to get blood drawn before your procedure.
  • Drink plenty of fluids the day before your procedure.


Before your tumor cryotherapy treatment, you will be given a sedative medication through your IV. The medication may make you sleepy and will help to reduce any discomfort you may have during the procedure.

For some people staying awake for the procedure may be difficult or not possible. These people may need anesthesia (medicines to make you sleep during the procedure). Let us know right away if you:

  • Have needed anesthesia for basic procedures in the past
  • Have sleep apnea or chronic breathing problems (you might use a CPAP or BiPAP device while sleeping)
  • Use high doses of narcotic painkiller
  • Have severe heart, lung, or kidney disease
  • Cannot lie flat for about 2 to 3 hours because of back or breathing problems
  • Have a hard time lying still during medical procedures

Preparing for Tumor Cryotherapy

  • Do not eat or drink starting at 10 pm the day before your procedure.
  • Take all of your medicines on the day of your procedure. Do NOT skip them unless we instruct you do to so.
  • Bring a list of all of your medicines with you.
  • If there is a delay in getting your procedure started it is usually because we need to treat other people with unexpected or emergency problems. Thank you for your patience if this occurs.
  • A nurse will give you a hospital gown to put on and a bag for your belongings. Please do not bring valuable items with you.
  • An intravenous (IV) line will be started. You will be given fluids and medicine through the IV.
  • Dr. Christenson will talk with you about the procedure and ask you to sign a consent form if that has not already been done. You may ask any questions you have at any time.

What happens after the procedure?

  • After your procedure you will be taken to Surgery Plus where the nurses will monitor your vital signs.
  • When you are fully awake, able to eat, use the restroom and walk, you will be able to go home.
  • Before you leave the hospital, your nurse will tell you what activities you can do, how to take care of your incision, and other important instructions.

When You Get Home

Most people have some side effects after cryoablation. These side effects may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Nausea


  • You may shower 24 hours after your procedure.
  • Avoid strenuous activity including heavy lifting (anything over 20 lbs) for 3 days after your procedure.
  • Most people can return to their normal activities within 1 week.