Lawsuits Over Cancer Spread by Laparoscopic or Robotic Hysterectomy with Morcellation

Many minimally invasive laparoscopic hysterectomy and robotic hysterectomy procedures performed in recent years involved the use of a power morcellator, which may have caused the spread of leiomyosarcoma or other uterine cancer.

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Saiontz & Kirk, PA, Attorneys & Lawyers, Baltimore, MD

Power morcellators are used to cut the uterus into small pieces that may be removed a small incision in the abdomen during a hysterectomy. Morcellation during a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH) or da Vinci robot-assisted hysterectomy carries an unjustifiable risk of spreading aggressive cancerous tissue throughout the body, such as leiomyosarcoma, endometrial stromal sarcoma or other uterine cancers.

The product liability lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential hysterectomy morcellation lawsuits for women throughout the United States who may be entitled to financial compensation as a result of manufacturers’ decision to withhold critical information from patients and the medical community about the risk of cancer spreading during uterine fibroid removal. Request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Cancer Risk

Doctors often recommend a laparoscopic hysterectomy for uterine fibroids to provide a smaller incision and reduced recovery time. However, an unpredictable group of women undergoing these minimally invasive surgical procedures may face a serious and potentially life-threatening risk from the use of power morcellation.

About one out of every 350 women undergoing a hysterectomy for removal of uterine fibroids may have an undiagnosed sarcoma, which doctors can not accurately detect prior to the surgery.

A hysterectomy with morcellation may cause this cancerous tissue, which is contained within the uterus, to be spread throughout the body.

As a result, many women have been diagnosed with advanced stage uterine cancer following a laparoscopic hysterectomy or robotic hysterectomy, where leiomyosarcoma, endometrial stromal sarcoma or other cancer has metastasized to the pelvis, bladder, lungs or other remote areas.

The FDA issued the first warnings about the risk in April 2014, warning urging doctors not to perform laparoscopic hysterectomy with morcellators. In November 2014, the agency announced that a “black box” warning will be placed on the devices to ensure women are aware of the risk before considering laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation.

Because there is no reliable way for doctors to determine which women have uterine sarcoma prior to the hysterectomy, the FDA determined that the cancer risks associated with using morcellation during a laparoscopic or robotic hysterectomy surgery outweighs any benefits provided over other methods of removing the uterus or uterine fibroids for the vast majority of women.

Manufacturers of power morcellators used during hysterectomy procedures knew or should have known about the substantial risk of spreading unsuspected sarcoma that is associated with the design of their products, yet it appears that these corporations chose to place their desire for profits before consumer safety by withholding important safety information from the medical community.

▸ Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy

Traditionally, open hysterectomies are performed through an abdominal incision or by removal of the uterus through the vagina. During these surgeries, women who may have unsuspected sarcoma do not face a substantial risk of having the cancer spread throughout the body, as the tumor may often be completely removed along with the uterus.

Due to the long recovery time and risks associated with an abdominal hysterectomy, which were the most frequently used type of hysterectomy for decades, many surgeons have recommended minimally invasive procedures for removal of the uterus and uterine fibroids.

Laparoscopic surgery for hysterectomies results in a less invasive procedure and generally carries less risk of complications. In the late 1980s, laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy was developed, where a laparoscope through the abdomen is used to guid the removal of the uterus through the vagina. However, this surgery requires removal of the cervix, in addition to the uterus.

Laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LASH) was later developed and gained popularity for uterine fibroid treatment over the past decade, allowing surgeons to remove the uterus without removal of the cervix. However, this procedure requires use of a morcellator to cut the uterus into smaller pieces that can be removed through the laparoscopic ports.

▸ Robotic Hysterectomy

In 2000, Intuitive Surgical introduced the da Vinci Surgical System, which is a remote-controlled robot that provides the surgeon with a greater range of motion than the human hand. These surgical robots contain four arms that are operated through the use of hand and foot controls while the surgeon is looking at a virtual reality representation of the patients internal organs.

da Vinci robot surgery has been used for a number of different gynecologic procedures, with robotic hysterectomy being one of the more common in recent years. In many cases, these robot-assisted hysterectomy surgeries involve the use of a hand-held morcellator during the procedure.

The da Vinci robot does not actually include a morcellator, but devices manufactured by several other companies may have been used by surgeons during a robotic laparoscopic hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Cancer Class Action Lawyers

As a result of the dangerous and defective nature of power morcellators as they are were originally designed, financial compensation may be available for women who had a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy or robotic hysterectomy and subsequently were diagnosed with leiomyosarcma or another uterine cancer.

The product liability lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential hysterectomy cancer lawsuits on behalf of women throughout the United States. Families of women who have died as a result of leimoyosarcoma or another cancer spread by morcellators may also be entitled to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

All case are handled by our law firm on a contingency fee basis, which means that there are no out-of-pocket expenses associated with pursuing a lawsuit and we receive no attorney fees or reimbursed costs unless a recovery is obtained for cancer spread during a hysterectomy with morcellation.