The application of cold in medicine is possible over a wide range of temperature from −269 °C up to
+20 °C. The spectrum of treatments ranges from physiotherapeutical (cryotherapy) to surgical applications (cryosurgery). Cold can be used for example to treat eye diseases (such as lens removal and repair of retinal detachment).
Cryotherapy can be used for the treatment of bruises for pain control or tissue swelling by the application of cold compresses. Cryotherapy can also help in some rheumatic diseases. In this case the patients stay in a cold chamber at –130 °C for 10 minutes. The metabolism and blood circulation are stimulated as well as the regeneration of tissue. Therefore, such chambers are also used by athletes for recreation after sport accidents.
The application of cryosurgery has a number of advantages compared to other types of treatment. Biological function and scaffold structures of the tissue can be preserved. The scar formation is less or non-existent after cryosurgical application. In the majority of cases, the treatment can be done minimally invasive and outpatient. Also, the financial effort is associated with relatively low costs, when compared to other, similar methods of treatment. In human medicine the applications range from oncology, dermatology, ophthalmology and cranio-maxillofacial surgery to gynecology and proctology.
In veterinary medicine, especially large-scale sarcomas at horses and the plasma cellular pododermatitis of felids are treated with large and long-lasting success.
The application of a suited technique for the treatment is required to achieve an optimal success of healing. The ILK Dresden developes cryosurgical devices, based on liquid nitrogen (LN2) for many years. These devices are mainly used in treating trigeminal neuralgia and in veterinary medicine. The spectrum of developments ranges from various cryosurgical probes (e.g. closed penetration probes and spray probes) to the required volume-adapted LN2 supply equipment.