Intralesional cryotherapy versus excision with corticosteroid injections or brachytherapy for keloid treatment: Randomised controlled trials

Eveline Bijlard, Frank B. Niessen, Reinier Timman, Gerda M. Verduijn, Steven E.R. Hovius, Marc A.M. Mureau

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Keloids are a burden for patients due to physical, aesthetic and social consequences. Treatment remains a challenge due to therapy resistance and high recurrence rates. The main goals of treatment are to improve scar appearance and symptoms and patients’ quality of life (QoL). Methods: Two multicentre, randomised controlled open trials that compared 1) intralesional cryotherapy with excision and corticosteroid injections for primary keloids, and 2) intralesional cryotherapy with excision and brachytherapy for therapy resistant keloids. Primary outcome was scar appearance assessed with the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale. Secondary outcomes were patient reported QoL (Skindex-29, SF-36, EQ-5D-5L), recurrence rates and scar volume reduction. For analysis, a linear mixed model was used. Power analysis indicated 33 patients in each group were needed. Results: The trial was prematurely terminated after inclusion of 26 patients due to unexpectedly inferior outcomes after intralesional cryotherapy. For primary keloids no convincing difference between treatments was found, but surgery improved scar appearance while cryotherapy did not. For resistant keloids, excision followed by brachytherapy improved scar appearance (POSAS) and scar symptoms (itch and pain) significantly (p < 0.001, p < 0.001 and p = 0.006 respectively) while cryotherapy did not. Neither of the treatments caused indisputable improvements in QoL. Conclusions: Intralesional cryotherapy is inferior to keloid excision followed by brachytherapy for resistant keloids. In primary keloids, intralesional cryotherapy reduced keloid volume and, therefore, may be used in these patients and specific cases. Primary keloid group size was too small to draw valid conclusions, further research on the efficacy of intralesional cryotherapy for primary keloids is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-856
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Cryotherapy
  • Excision
  • Keloid
  • Randomised clinical trial

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