Power Morcellator Information
Power morcellators are a medical device commonly used by gynecologists to divide and remove large tissue masses during laparoscopic uterine surgery. These surgeries include hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and myomectomy (removal of uterine fibroids). Electric morcellators use rotating blades to mince or morcellate the uterus into tiny pieces. The device then vacuums up the smaller pieces to remove them. Most women are unaware that a power morcellator is used during their laparoscopic surgery. According to the Health and Human Services Department, over a half a million women have hysterectomies each year.
Power Morcellator Risks
The FDA has issued a warning against the use of power morcellators in the majority of women. Power morcellators pose a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue, typically uterine sarcomas, beyond the uterus. The rotating blades spray bits of uterine or fibroid tissue throughout the abdomen and pelvis, which can adhere to other tissues and organs.
The tissue may come from benign fibroid tumors, which may cause pain, infection, or bowel obstruction. In mores serious causes, the woman may not be aware she has Leiomyosarcoma, is a rare but aggressive cancer of the uterus. The power morcellator causes the cancerous cells to spread throughout a woman’s abdomen, which can have serious consequences.
According to the FDA, an estimated “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.”
Uterine leiomyosarcoma (ULMS) arises from the muscular part of the uterus, and occurs primarily in women 40 to 60 years of age. These cancer tumors are difficult to treat, especially because they are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation.
Leiomyosarcoma Lawsuits & Power Morcellator Lawsuits
The FDA issued the safety report in April 2014 discouraging the use of this device. Since then, several women and their families have filed power morcellator lawsuits against manufacturers of the device after they are diagnosed with uterine cancer. They allege that they were not made aware of the risks of using a power morcellator.
Amy Reed, an MD at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was one of these women who filed a power morcellator lawsuit, and urges women to learn more in a YouTube video.
In March 2014, a husband filed a Leiomyosarcoma lawsuit on behalf of his diseased wife, who died from uterine cancer less than a year after undergoing hysterectomy that used power morcellation to treat uterine bleeding. Another case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New York by a woman who was diagnosed with cancer after having robot-assisted hysterectomy that used power morcellation.
According to the Pitsburgh Business Times, Johnson&Johnson, one of the manufacturers of power morcellators, was made aware of the danger of the device in 2006. In a series of letters, “Dr. Robert Lamparter, a pathologist at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Pa. asked J&J to “reconsider the risk to the patient” from use of the device. Despite this urging, Johnson & Johnson continued to sell power morcellators up until 2014. It has since recalled these devices, in response to the various power morcellator lawsuits.
Despite this, many other manufacturers of similar devices have not yet followed suit. The Leiomyosarcoma lawsuits often charge the manufacturers with negligence, strict product liability, breach of warranty, and fraudulent misrepresentation and omission.
If you believe you have contracted a uterine sarcoma after a surgery involving a power morcellator, or had fibroids removed from other organs after such a surgery, please contact us. You may be eligible for a Leiomyosarcoma lawsuit.