Intranasal cryotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure for people with chronic rhinitis. Your rhinologist may offer this option if you are unable to find relief with nasal sprays or oral medications.
Henry Ford Health System was the first in Michigan to perform intranasal cryotherapy. Our rhinologists participated in a study to test this procedure with allergic, nonallergic and mixed rhinitis patients. Their findings help our patients understand the procedure and know what to expect.
What is intranasal cryotherapy?
Intranasal refers to anything inside the nose. Cryotherapy means “cold therapy” and refers to procedures that freeze part of the body.
Intranasal cryotherapy freezes nerve fibers of the posterior nasal nerve in the back of the nose. An overactive posterior nasal nerve can cause the nose to produce excess mucus. Cryotherapy can address the overactive nerve to help reduce runny nose symptoms.
Intranasal cryotherapy is an in-office rhinitis treatment
Intranasal cryotherapy may be performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. It takes only a few minutes. The doctor will:
- Apply topical anesthesia to numb the inside of the nose.
- Place the intranasal cryotherapy device (ClariFix®) in the back of your nose, along with an endoscope to help the doctor see inside your nose.
- Apply the freezing agent (nitrous oxide cryogen) inside the nose, through a small balloon on the tip of the device.
- Press the balloon tip against the overactive nerve fibers. You may feel slight pressure, a cooling sensation and some mild discomfort.
The overactive nerves become inactive, which reduces your runny nose. We are careful not to disrupt all of the nerve fibers, which would result in a dry nose.
What to expect from intranasal cryotherapy
Most people have only mild discomfort. After the procedure, you may get an “ice cream” headache for which you can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
You may also experience temporary congestion or an increased runny nose during the first week while your nasal tissues heal. You should notice improvement in your rhinitis within one to six weeks.
Long-term outcomes vary from person to person. You can get intranasal cryotherapy more than once if needed. Continued chronic rhinitis after several treatments may require endoscopic sinus surgery.