Power morcellators are used in some hysterectomies and myomectomies. Myomectomy is surgery to remove fibroids. Hysterectomy and myomectomy with power morcellation are minimally invasive surgeries, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now recommends against using the device in these surgeries because of the risk of spreading unsuspected cancer.
What is Power Morcellation?
Laparoscopic power morcellation is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to remove the uterus or fibroids. A small incision is made, usually in the naval. The morcellator is a small bladed power tool which is inserted through the incision. The morcellator blades spin, cutting the uterus or fibroids into tiny pieces that can be removed by suction through a narrow tube.
The advantage of power morcellation is that it is allows for a minimally invasive procedure. The incision is small, so there is less trauma to the tissues, and recovery is faster and easier than with traditional surgery.
The Risks of Power Morcellation
After power morcellation, most of the cut up tissue is removed. However, as the blades spin and chop during power morcellation, tiny pieces of the minced tissue are spread throughout the abdomen and pelvis and all of them cannot be removed. If the tissue is healthy this is harmless, but if cancer is present, the cancer cells are spread throughout the abdomen and pelvis.
Localized cancer is easier to treat and treatment is likely to be successful. Cancer that is spread out cannot easily be removed or targeted for treatment. The chance of long-term survival is much lower, and the cancer may not be treatable at all.
When cancer progresses naturally it usually takes time to spread, meaning that there are opportunities to catch the cancer and treat it in its early stages while it is still localized. When the cancer is spread artificially, the first detection may not occur until the cancer is in late stages and no longer treatable.
FDA Safety Warning
On April 17, 2014, the FDA issued a safety warning discouraging the use of laparoscopic power morcellation during hysterectomy and myomectomy for treatment of uterine fibroids.
According to the FDA, “it is estimated that 1 in 350 women undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy for the treatment of fibroids is found to have an unsuspected uterine sarcoma, a type of uterine cancer that includes leiomyosarcoma.” The FDA also says that “there is no reliable method for predicting whether a woman with fibroids may have a uterine sarcoma.”
If you have questions about power morcellators or if you believe you or a loved one contracted a more aggressive form of cancer as a result of the morcellation technique used, please contact us for a free case evaluation. We will help you find answers to your questions. If you need legal assistance we can help you find an attorney who represents people harmed by power morcellators.