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Power Morcellators

You may not realize which tools are being used on you during surgery. Sometimes, this is by design. Many people do not want to know what tool is being used to cut them open or remove portions of their organs or tissues. However, if a power morcellator has been used on you, you may want to know. This device is often used in procedures like a laparoscopic hysterectomy or a myomectomy. It is used to cut large tissues into smaller pieces.

A power morcellator has a handle and long end with sharp blades on the tip. It resembles a drill, but it generally has small blades instead of a bit. It is used in minimally invasive surgeries. The surgeon or doctor can insert the device into small incisions in the body. It cuts up the tissue, and then the tissue is vacuumed out of the body.

It is used to avoid having to make large incisions in the stomach, which increases recovery time and can damage muscles. The instrument is specifically designed to allow the patient to recover faster and with fewer complications and pain. Before a large recall in 2014, power morcellators were used in approximately 50,000 various procedures every year.

The main problem with power morcellation is that the spinning and cutting action of the device can allow cancerous cells to spread to other locations during fibroid surgery or a hysterectomy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that the device should not be used for certain procedures to cut down on the risk of spreading cancer. This includes removing uterine tissue for women who are peri- or post-menopausal or those who are getting tissue removed intact through the vagina or mini-laparotomy incision. They should also not be used in gynecologic surgery that involves tissue that may be cancerous.

Other side effects of using a power morcellator may include:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Organ damage
  • Pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Abscess
  • Oozing and pain at the incision site
  • Bleeding or infection

None of these more common side effects are nearly as serious as the potential spread of cancerous cells to other parts of the body. Certain uterine cancers are occasionally diagnosed as benign fibroids. They cannot be reliably detected until after surgery when the cells are tested. When doctors use a power morcellator to cut up the cells, the cancerous cells could have already spread to other parts of the body by the time the tissue is tested.

In 2014, Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of the power morcellator, recalled all of their devices after the FDA recommended that doctors avoid using the tool. Johnson & Johnson owns the subsidiary company, Ethicon, which directly sold the power morcellator. Although Ethicon did not produce all of the power morcellators on the market in 2014, it did supply almost three-fourths of all of the devices on the market at that time.

The risk of cutting up cancer cells was widely known, but researchers severely underestimated the risk that fibroids actually housed sarcoma. At first, they thought the occurrence was roughly 1 in 10,000. This type of risk was so small that doctors only occasionally mentioned it to patients. Later studies revealed that the risk was actually more like 1 in 350. There is a similar risk for hysterectomies as well—1 in 368 women who have hysterectomies have a hidden uterine cancer that could be spread by a power morcellator.

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Power Morcellator Use Today

Despite FDA warnings and Johnson and Johnson’s massive recall, power morcellators are still being used in hospitals across the country today. There is still a real cancer risk in those who undergo minimally invasive hysterectomies using a power morcellator, but the rates of these minimally invasive procedures have declined. As the procedure has declined, so has the occurrence of cancer spreading following hysterectomies.

Some companies and researchers did not agree with the FDA’s ban on power morcellators. Perhaps that is why three percent of hysterectomies were still conducted using a power morcellator as of 2015.

Some insurance companies will not cover procedures that use power morecellators without prior approval. They argue that there are safer options that doctors can use that they will cover.

There are still power morecellators on the market today, and although you may not realize which tool was used in your particular procedure, it was likely one of the following:

  • MOREsolution
  • Cook Tissue Morcellator
  • Xcise
  • ROTOCUT G1, G2
  • VersaCut+ Tissue Morcellator
  • KSE Steiner Electromechanic Morcellator
  • PKS PlamsaSORD
  • Swalhe II SuperCut Morcellator
  • VarioCarve Morcellator
  • Morce Power Plus

Knowing which device your surgeon or doctor used will be important if you want to assert a power morcellator lawsuit.

If you or a loved one developed cancer following a minimally invasive hysterectomy or fibroid surgery, you might have legal options. Find out more by calling 800-800-4600 today.

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