Liquid nitrogen is a chemical that is extremely cold, about -328°F (-200°C).
Liquid nitrogen will instantly freeze anything it touches. It is used to kill cells that make up diseased or cancerous tissue. Tissue that has been frozen dies, may blister and then falls off.
Dinulos JGH. Dermatologic surgical procedures. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide in Diagnosis and Therapy. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 27.
McNabb JW, Pfenninger JL. Cryosurgery. In: Fowler GC, ed. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 14.
Review Date 10/20/2022
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.