What Is a Power Morcellator?
Power morcellators are medical devices that are used during laparoscopic surgeries. The device is used to break up tissue into smaller pieces, which can then be removed through the smaller incisions involved in minimally invasive surgeries. Johnson & Johnson is one of the biggest manufacturers of morcellation devices, and the devices are used in tens of thousands of procedures every year.
Power morcellators have allowed doctors to use smaller cuts during surgery, which can help patients:
- Recover more quickly
- Avoid some complications
- Experience less pain after a procedure
Types of Surgeries Using Power Morecellation
Power morcellation is used in some types of laparoscopic surgery, such as kidney and spleen surgeries, but the main concern with the device has to do with its use in gynecological surgies, including:
- Uterine fibroid surgery
Cancer Risks Associated With the Use of Power Morcellators in Gynecological Surgeries
Unfortunately, despite the benefits, there is also evidence that the device could spread an aggressive form of cancer in some patients who undergo gynecological surgery for uterine fibroids—and some women have already lost their lives or have already developed advanced cancer that is potentially related to the device.
Due to the increased risk of advanced-stage cancer and the reduction in long-term survivability for victims, the FDA has officially discouraged use of the device in certain gynecologic surgeries. At this time, there are no reliable methods for positively detecting every instance of uterine sarcoma prior to fibroid surgery or thoroughly containing potentially cancerous morcellated tissue.
As of May 27, 2015, it was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had also begun investigating whether device makers violated the law by failing to report the dangers of power morcellation. While a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson said that the company was unaware of the FBI investigation, some victims and doctors had already spoken to investigators about their experiences with power morcellators. The FBI, following its official policy for speaking about potentially active cases, has neither confirmed nor denied that an investigation is ongoing.
Morcellator Use and Cancer Statistics
If you, your spouse, your sister, your daughter, or another family member has already had or plans to have surgery for fibroid removal or another issue, don’t ignore the increasing body of information that links the use of power morcellator devices with the spread of undetected uterine sarcoma. While research into the issue is still ongoing, it is still recommended that you have an in-depth discussion with your doctor about the risks and benefits of your procedure. To help you get started with your own research into the matter, here are some facts and statistics about the cancer risks of power morcellator use:
- Hysterectomies and fibroid removals are some of the most common surgeries women undergo in the United States, and approximately one in three women will have a hysterectomy by age 70. Power morcellation has typically been used to perform these kinds of surgeries due to the smaller incisions needed and reduced recovery times for patients, among other factors.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an analysis and concluded that one in 352 women who undergo surgery for uterine fibroids has undiagnosed uterine sarcoma, and one in 498 women has undiagnosed leiomyosarcoma, a particularly aggressive form of uterine cancer. These numbers released by the FDA show that undetected uterine sarcoma may be much more common than the medical community previously believed.
- After power morcellation of an undetected sarcoma, the estimated lifespan of the patient is approximately two to three years. It is estimated that only 15 percent of women with stage 4 leiomyosarcoma will remain survivors after five years.
- Women are approximately four times more likely to die from uterine sarcoma if they have undergone morcellation surgery.
Johnson & Johnson Recalls Power Morcellator Devices
As a result of the FDA's warning, Johnson & Johnson suspended sales of the device, and all power morcellators produced by the company's Ethicon division have now been recalled, including the following:
- Morecellex Sigma
- Gynecare X-Tract
- Gynecare Morecellex
However, some victims have alleged that Johnson & Johnson did not perform adequate testing and continued to produce the potentially dangerous device even after the cancer risks were known. These three models and other brands of power morcellators are still being used in gynecologic surgeries across the nation.
Lawsuits Being Filed by Victims of Power Morcellator Devices
Lawsuits have already been filed around the nation from both victims and the families of victims who have died from the use of this potentially dangerous device. These lawsuits allege that the manufacturer knew or should have known that these devices posed a risk to patients. Additionally, evidence of the link between morcellation and some forms of cancer has been growing, and some victims have been active in campaigns to stop all use of morcellation in fibroid surgeries. The Johnson & Johnson recall is an important step in getting medical facilities and surgeons to make changes that potentially avoid cancer risks.
Although Johnson & Johnson power morcellators have now been recalled and many hospitals are discouraging the use of morcellation, laparoscopic power morcellators have been in widespread use for many years, and it is likely that other victims will come forward with complaints.
Contact Us To Discuss Your Power Morcellator Lawsuit. You Deserve the Best Legal Help.
If you or a loved one developed cancer after a surgery involving a power morcellator, you need to understand your rights. Contact our nationally recognized law firm for a completely free case analysis.