Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Morcellation Problems May Be Rare, But Can Be Devastating
After a long year of mounting concerns about the risk of cancer being spread by power morcellators, most health experts and government regulators now widely agree that laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation of uterine fibroids puts women at an unnecessary risk.
As a result, the use of morcellators during uterine fibroid surgery has been largely been abandoned. However, some gynecologists continue to recommend use of the devices to provide the benefits associated with a minimally invasive procedure, which raises the question of whether any risk is too great given the devastating impact of the aggressive uterine cancer being spread by laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation.
The product liability lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. have been reviewing potential laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation lawsuits for women and families throughout the United States who have been diagnosed with the spread of leiomyosarcoma, endometrial stromal sarcoma or other utrine cancer. Given the rapid and serious impact of disseminating these cancers throughout the body, it is difficult to imagine any family electing to undergo a uterine fibroid procedure involving morcellation if they were fully aware of the potential risks.
How Rare Is Morcellation Hysterectomy Risk?
In a recent interview with Medscape, Dr. Hal C. Lawrence, III, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) indicates that he believes there is still a limited place for the use of power morcellators in the medical community.
In advocating that doctors continue to weigh the benefits against the potential risks, Dr. Lawrence raised questions about the estimated number of women who may be at risk, indicating that the spread of cancer from laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation is even more rare than the FDA and other researchers have estimated.
There is no way for doctors to determine prior uterine fibroid surgery which patients may have unsuspected sarcoma contained within their uterus. Unfortunately, for these women with undiagnosed cancer, it is now acknowledged that the use of a power morcellator may cause cancerous tissue to be spread throughout the abdomen, quickly upstaging the cancer to its most deadly and difficult to treat stage.
Have You or a Loved One Been Diagnosed with Cancer After a Hysterectomy with Morcellation?
While FDA estimates suggest that about 1 out of every 350 women who undergo a laparoscopic hysterectomy or myomectomy may have unsuspected sarcoma, and 1 out of every 498 women who undergo the procedure has undiagnosed leiomyosarcoma contained within the uterus, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has cast doubt on the usefulness of the FDA’s numbers.
Dr. Lawrence indicates the number could be as high as 1-in-900 being at risk of having undiagnosed cancer. He also suggests that doctors can further reduce the risk by making an educated guess about which women may be less likely to experience problems. Dr. Lawrence notes that younger women in their 30s are at a much reduced risk of leiomyosarcoma and that the stability and growth of the fibroids could also provide clues.
While many within the medical community have indicated they will no longer perform hysterectomy morcellation, Dr. Lawrence indicates that there is “an opportunity here for some dialog with the FDA and hopefully some clarification.”
In November, the FDA decided to allow power morcellators to remain on the market with new “black box” warnings designed to ensure women and their doctors are aware of the potential cancer risks. However, they did contraindicate the use of the devices for many types of procedures.
Dr. Lawrence indicates that the FDA needs to better define some of its contraindications, such as determining whether a woman is perimenopausal through age or symptoms. He also urged doctors to still discuss power morcellation with patients who may benefit from the procedure, but to make sure they had all the information possible so they could make informed consent.
While many critics of the device have called for power morcellator recalls to be issued, indicating that there is no current way to ensure they are safe, Dr. Lawrence also suggests that there may be techological advances in the future that decrease the risks, including the ability to use surgical bags to catch cancerous tissue debris.
Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Morcellation Lawsuits
The debate over use of power morcellators is far from over, but it remains clear that manufacturers have marketed and sold these dangerous devices for years without providing adequate information and warnings for consumers and the medical community.
As a result, hysterectomy morcellation may have left many women with devastating injuries as a result of the spread of:
To determine whether you or a loved one may be entitled to financial compensation as a result of the manufacturers’ decision to withhold information about the hysterectomy morcellation cancer risks, request a free consultation and case evaluation.
The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are pursuing all claims under a contingency fee agreement, which means that there are never any out-of-pocket expenses to hire our law firm and we receive no attorney fees or expenses unless a recovery is obtained.