Background and Purpose: In a canine model, we evaluated the feasibility of nerve-sparing cryosurgery by active warming of the neurovascular bundle (NVB). Furthermore, our aim was to determine if NVB warming increases the risk of acinar gland and stromal-tissue preservation in adjacent areas of the prostate. The effects of a single versus double freeze-thaw cycle on prostate tissue were also assessed. Materials and Methods: Ten prostate lobes from five dogs were evaluated. Nine lobes from five dogs were treated with cryoablation using 17-gauge gas-driven cryoneedles. Seven lobes wre treated with active warming of the NVB using helium gas, and two lobes were treated without active warming. A single or double freeze-thaw cycle was utilized. Prostate tissue ablation and NVB preservation were evaluated in histologic sections. Results: All seven prostate lobes treated with active warming demonstrated complete or partial NVB preservation. Four of these lobes had adjacent gland preservation. All lobes treated with a double freeze-thaw cycle showed complete and uniform ablation of prostate tissue. One of the three lobes treated with a single freeze-thaw cycle demonstrated incomplete ablation of the tissue. Conclusions: This is the first study investigating the feasibility of NVB preservation under controlled experimental conditions. In our canine model, NVB preservation with active warming was possible but not consistently reproducible. In some cases, NVB preservation with active warming may result in incomplete peripheral tissue ablation. A double, but not a single, freeze-thaw cycle induces complete and effective necrosis of prostatic tissue. These results have significant clinical applications when attempting nerve-sparing cryosurgical ablation of the prostate.
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