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Controversy Over Power Morcellator Use in Hysterectomy Procedures

Aug 3, 2016

A number of women are coming forward seeking legal action after they have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, blaming the power morcellator for the spread of their disease. The women hold the manufacturers of the devices responsible for being negligent in warning them of this potential complication.

The power morcellator is often the device of choice for many women and their physicians who seek a shorter recovery time with the minimally invasive procedure offered by the power morcellator. The question remains if the power morcellator used for a hysterectomy significantly increases patients' risk for uterine cancer. If a patient is not sure if a power morcellator was used in her procedure, the minimal scarring, along with the diagnosis of aggressive uterine cancer soon after the surgery, are likely signs.

Use of power morcellators is relatively new, becoming popular in the 2000s when patients and doctors found the devices provided an efficient method in which to remove uterine fibroids. The device consists of two rotating blades that slice the fibroids into pieces that are small enough to then be sucked through a tube inserted into a tiny incision in the abdomen.

Problems occur when the rotating blades cut up unknown cancerous fibroids, releasing previously unknown or dormant cancer cells into the body, enabling the disease to spread at a much faster rate. Currently, there is no diagnostic method to determine if a woman already has uterine cancer before she undergoes a power morcellation procedure.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that one in 350 women have early stage uterine cancer, with an approximate 50,000 women selecting power morcellator surgeries each year. On April 17, 2014, the FDA released a public warning discouraging women from opting to use the power morcellator in hysterectomy and other laparoscopic procedures.

Even before the FDA issued this warning, women and doctors stated they were not sufficiently informed about the potential complications connected to power morcellators. Some medical experts doubted that power morcellators were sufficiently tested before being made available for use on patients.

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