There are at least two dozen devices currently on the market in the United States used by health care providers to extract bulky specimens from the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery. These devices are saws called morcellators, and they have been used to aid in gynecologic surgery for decades, as well as more recently in kidney and spleen surgeries in both sexes. Morcellators dice bulky material within the abdomen using pincers and a rotating blade, and remove it in a relatively easy and non-intrusive way.
The original morcellator had to be hand-pumped by the physician while being used, but in the early 1990s, the first electric morcellator was introduced in the U.S. Electric morcellators have since been used for uterine extraction, hysterectomy, and myomectomy for uterine fibroids. Electric morcellators became increasingly popular due to the fact that they required a smaller incision than other removal methods. They became more and more often used for female surgeries, as well as in other organ surgeries involving men.
Soon, however, women began to realize the detrimental health effects brought on by electric morcellators. The spinning blade poses a high risk for spreading cancerous cells in the uterus, which then develop into malignant tumors.
The FDA estimates that about 60,000 hysterectomies are performed for uterine fibroids using morcellation each year. Since April 2014, the FDA has discouraged the use of morcellation in the removal of uterine fibroids, due to an increased risk of spreading cancerous tissue in the event of unsuspected uterine sarcoma. Morcellators can spread cancer throughout the uterus and abdomen, drastically reducing the chances of survival.
Approximately 1 in 350 patients have unsuspected sarcoma at the time of their morcellation. Using a morcellator in these cases leads to the rapid dispersal and spread of cancer throughout the rest of the body, resulting in tumor formations throughout the abdomen. A case that could have been an easily controlled Stage I cancer has thus rapidly evolved into Stage IV cancer instead, giving the patient few options for recovery.
Even in the event that the cells are benign, the resulting tumor formations on other organs in the body can be very painful and cause infection or bowel obstruction. Physicians must then take steps to rid the body of these tumors, increasing the patient’s overall discomfort as well as increasing medical costs.
Some morcellation cancer symptoms can include:
If sarcoma does exist in the patient before morcellation, and morcellation still occurs during a routine procedure, it will be too late for the patient to prevent the spread of the cancerous cells.
Although it’s been known for years that morcellators can spread cancerous tissue in the uterus, women who have suffered from this issue are speaking out about their experience. The highly publicized case of Amy Reed, a Boston doctor who tended to victims of the Boston marathon bombings, has encouraged more women to take a stand against electric morcellation.
Since the spreading of uterine cancer due to morcellation can be completely prevented, women everywhere are shocked by the fact that morcellator manufacturers have not done more to prevent the use of morcellators for the removal of uterine fibroids. If you or someone you love has been negatively affected after a morcellation procedure, you do have rights. You’re not alone in your fight – let Sweeney Merrigan Law seek justice for you against the negligence of morcellator manufacturers.