The FBI is currently investigating the use of laparoscopic power morcellators, surgical devices that have been found to spread cancer in women who they are meant to treat. In 2014, the agency issued a warning that the morcellators could be transferring cancerous cells to women’s abdomens when in hysterectomies.
Hundreds of women have already been harmed by morcellation surgery, many of which are filing lawsuits against morcellator manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. As a note, there is a specific timeframe for filing a case related to a defective product.
How Morcellators Were Designed to Function
Morcellators were developed to cut tissue or masses into small fragments within the body, generally used to perform surgeries such as a hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroids. A morcellator is a small, electric instrument with rotating blades that breaks up the tissue.
The device allows doctors to do the following.
- Make smaller incisions than traditional surgery
- Leave little scarring
- Speed up patient recovery time
- Cause less post-op pain
- Avoid major surgery
After the gynecologist has broken up the fibroid or other tissue with the morcellator, he or she can then remove the tissue fragments with a vacuum.
The Potential Spread of Cancer through Morcellation
Unfortunately, medical professionals and the FDA has found that not all of the broken up tissue is removed after morcellation. Some of it is left behind and spread throughout the body. As many as one in 350 women who undergo morcellation for fibroids have an unsuspected uterine sarcoma, a certain type of uterine cancer.
In these women, neither the doctor nor the patient is yet aware of the presence of cancer; uterine sarcoma is difficult to detect. When the morcellator breaks up the cancerous tissue, any remnants that spread throughout the body can worsen the disease and cause new tumors to develop.
It’s not just women who have undergone morcellation for the treatment of fibroids that are at risk. Morcellators are used in other surgeries as well, including laparoscopic renal or nephrectomy, and spleen surgery or splenectomy. With these types of procedures, cancerous tissue spread throughout the abdomen in both men and women and causes serious complications, including facilitating the spread of cancer.
Diagnosed with cancer after morcellation? Contact Attorney Bressman
In light of the evidence linking morcellators to the spread of cancer, most health plans and hospitals have decommissioned the devices, no longer using them in surgical procedures. Patients who have already undergone morcellation and have developed cancer or other complications will want to speak to a dangerous device product liability lawyer.
Additionally, family members whose loved one died from complications after a morcellator-related surgery can also confer with a defective device attorney about ways to pursue compensation for their damages.
For a free consultation with medical product liability lawyer in Ohio, you are welcomed to contact Bressman Law at (614) 538-1116.