Many women underwent gynecological surgeries utilizing power morcellators hoping the procedure would put an end to the discomfort and inconvenience they experienced as a result of uterine fibroids. Unfortunately, some of these women found the procedure did them more harm than good and they are now taking legal action against the manufacturers of these devices. There is rapidly growing concern the use of power morcellators can cause aggressive forms of cancer to spread in women not previously diagnosed with the disease.
Power morcellators are a medical device used to remove uterine fibroids by crushing tissue and allowing a surgeon to easily remove it from the patient’s body. When morcellators entered the market many lauded them as being more effective and less risky. The device is still considered appropriate in some surgical procedures, but while it does make it possible to perform fibroid removal in a less invasive manner, the risks are serious enough to lead to their ban at several hospitals, and for the FDA to issue warnings to the medical community and consumers.
Following their procedures, many women were surprised to learn cancer cells were found throughout their body. Many received late-stage diagnoses of the disease, despite having no prior knowledge of cancer. The problem is believed to have occurred because cancer cells contained in the uterus were released into the body during the procedure, causing aggressive growth and spread of the disease. Sadly, in most of these cases, had the cancer been detected while it was still in the uterus, it could have potentially been treated successfully with little risk for progression of the disease.
How Power Morcellators Work
Power morcellators are used during laparoscopic gynecological and other types of surgery to break up tissue and make it easier to remove through small openings in the body. Procedures performed with morcellators produce less scarring and allow for speedier recovery times. The device works by “blasting” through tissue and pulverizing it into small pieces, which unfortunately allows cells from the tissue to travel into other parts of the body and into the bloodstream. Statistics regarding the use of the device show that one in 350 women on whom the device is used are at risk for developing an aggressive cancer following the procedure.
Many have questioned whether a cancer screening prior to a procedure performed with the power morcellator would be enough to prevent the spread of dangerous cells. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell if a uterine fibroid is cancerous until it is tested, a procedure that can be performed only once it is removed.
The FDA has yet to completely recall power morcellators and many believe it is still safe to use in certain circumstances. The agency has issued warnings concerning power morcellators, including encouraging surgeons not to use it in procedures for women who are known or suspected to have cancer. The agency also encourages physicians and their patient to consider alternative treatments for removing uterine fibroids. Doctors were also encouraged to ensure patients thoroughly understood the risks associated with power morcellator procedures and that the aggressive spread of cancer is among those risks.
Is Power Morcellation Ever a Safe Option?
There has been a dramatic rise in the number of women diagnosed with cancer following the introduction of power morcellation for treating uterine fibroids. All of these women required additional medical procedures to treat the cancers and in some cases, the spread of cancer throughout their bodies proved to be fatal.
There is evidence the risk associated with morcellation increases in women over the age of 50 due to increased cancer rates. Medical experts recommend patients and their doctors consider the age risk, as well as hereditary cancer risks before undergoing a morcellation procedure.
Advocates against the use of morcellation in gynecological surgeries have called for a complete ban on the use of power morcellators, especially in light of the fact that other procedures are available for removing and/or treating uterine fibroids.
As is the case with many medical malpractice incidents, there is concern manufacturers of power morcellator devices withheld important information from consumers and the medical community, leading to thousands of women unnecessarily suffering advanced cancer and reducing the length and overall quality of their lives. Our goal is to make sure consumers understand the risks associated with power morcellators before undergoing a surgical procedure, and that they know there are legal options available if they or a loved one received a cancer diagnosis following the procedure.