An FDA safety warning was issued in April 2014 regarding potential hazards of morcellation, a procedure becoming more commonly used in hysterectomies and the removal of uterine fibroids in women.
Power morcellators are long, bladed instruments that can be inserted into the abdomen via a small incision. The morecellator cuts the uterus or other tissues into smaller pieces that can be easily removed through the small incision. Morcellation procedures are not unlike laparoscopic surgeries, and as such can be preferable to other options because they are minimally invasive.
Despite the benefits of morcellation, reports have suggested that women with undetected sarcoma face a deadly, unnecessary spread of cancer when the hazardous cells from the uterus are spread to other areas of the abdomen and pelvis during and after the procedure. According to the FDA’s warning, an estimated 1 in 350 women who undergo a hysterectomy or removal of uterine fibroids has an undetected uterine sarcoma that poses a significant risk if morcellation is used. If these potentially cancerous cells are left in the body, they can are spread and the patient faces a significantly reduced rate of survival in the event that cancer develops.
Potential for Spread of Aggressive Cancer through Morcellation
According to a study released by the American Medical Association, morcellation was performed on approximately 15% of women who underwent a minimally invasive hysterectomy from 2006 to 2012. Although this method has been used since 1993, studies on the link between morcellation and the development of cancer have only recently been published.
With over 200,000 women undergoing hysterectomies or surgeries to remove uterine fibroids each year, about 0.2% will have aggressive cancerous tissue, known as leiomyosarcoma, present. By cutting the tissue inside the body, the harmful cells can be widely dispersed across the surrounding area of the body and develop into lethal cancer. There is no way to tell if malignant cancer cells are present prior to the use of morcellation, as confirmed by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, making it impossible to tell if morcellation should be avoided or not in certain patients.
Demanding Responsibility for the Risks of Power Morcellation
The FDA requested that surgeons stop using laparoscopic power morcellators. Manufacturer Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division has announced plans to have doctors return the morcellators, but has not announced an official recall. The company, among other manufacturers, currently faces thousands of lawsuits from victims and their families who have developed uterine cancer as a result of the procedure, alleging they were not adequately informed of the associated risk.
If you have undergone a hysterectomy, myomectomy, or a removal of fibroids through the use of power morcellation, you could be at risk for the development of:
- Uterine cancer
- Uterine sarcoma
If you suspect any of these or other negative effects due to your procedure, it is highly recommended that you consult with a physician as soon as possible. In the event that you or a loved one has developed cancer after a medical procedure in which morcellation was used, you may be able to seek compensation. J&J and Ethicon have already begun settling some power morecellator lawsuits, and you may also be entitled to compensation. With the experienced lawyers at Blizzard & Nabers at your side, you can pursue a claim against the manufacturers of this potentially deadly procedure.