Undergoing a hysterectomy is always a difficult situation for a woman. She may hope it will change her life for the better, ending pain from noncancerous fibroid tumors or having to deal with constant bleeding. If the doctor used a device called a power morcellator on the patient, and the woman has undiagnosed cancer, there is a good chance that the process could spread the deadly disease throughout her body.
The FDA has warned against the use of power morcellators for the majority of women requiring hysterectomies or myomectomies, the surgical removal of uterine fibroids. Between 1 in 225 and 1 in 580 women undergoing uterine fibroid surgery may have an undiagnosed uterine sarcoma, according to the FDA.
A power morcellator is a Class II medical device, and is used during a laparoscopic hysterectomy or myomectomy. During surgery, the doctor makes a small incision, inserts the power morcellator, and removes tissue via shredding and cutting.
While the operation allows a faster recovery time, for women with undiagnosed uterine sarcomas that minimally invasive surgery may have life-threatening consequences.
Physicians do not use power morcellators on women undergoing conventional abdominal myomectomy or hysterectomy.
Women with undiagnosed uterine sarcomas are most at risk from power morcellation. Uterine sarcomas are a type of cancer forming in the muscles or supporting structures of the uterus. Generally, a hysterectomy is the standard treatment for uterine cancer, possibly followed by radiation or chemotherapy.
For women with undiagnosed uterine cancers who have had hysterectomies performed with power morcellators, the uterus is already gone, but the disease has spread. These cancers often behave in a particularly aggressive manner.
It is likely that by the time a woman is diagnosed with uterine cancer after undergoing a power morcellation, the disease is at an advanced stage, leaving fewer treatment options and a less favorable prognosis.
Women who require fibroid and similar uterine surgeries must undergo an open uterine resection, rather than minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery without the use of a power morcellator. These surgeries take longer to heal.
Various companies have developed other medical devices for laparoscopic uterine tissue removal. However, these newer devices still pose the same threat as the power morcellator, as they can potentially spread a tumor throughout the body by “slicing and dicing,” the tissue. This means women who otherwise would not have suffered from late stage uterine cancer are in danger of developing, and dying from, the disease.
One company, Eximis Surgical, is touting its product, the XCor System, as a safe substitute for power morcellation. This system uses a containment system for the surgeon to work within. It also uses energized wires, rather than sharp edges, for cutting through tissue. However, critics say it can still result in the spread of uterine cancer from tissue slicing.
If you or a loved one have undergone surgery with a power morcellator and were later diagnosed with cancer, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia Defective Medical Product Lawyers at Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler. We will fight hard to protect your rights and get you the compensation that you deserve. Call us today at 215-569-4000 or complete our online form.