What Are The Issues With Using Power Morcellators?

by Terry Bryant

Power morcellators are almost always used for hysterectomies and myomectomies, and though they are effective in these procedures, they are no longer safe enough to use in most patients. It’s a brutally simple technology, consisting of a spinning blade attached to a vacuum system, which is funneled through a long tube. This narrow shape makes it possible to perform the treatment through a tiny incision, improving recovery time, and reducing pain.

The problem with power morcellators, though, is that they aren’t 100 percent effective. They often leave behind a small bit of tissue after the blade has minced up the targeted tissue, and this can immediately lead to an infection. Worse, when the device is used to churn up a fibroid, the term given to a benign uterine growth, it can release an aggressive form of cancer into the body, known as leimyosarcoma. Doctors believe about 1 in 350 women carry an undetected leimyosarcoma, and it is nearly impossible to find the disease before treatment. If the tumor is dispersed throughout the body, it can rapidly accelerate metastasizing, which can lead to a fatal outcome. In fact, the five-year survivability rate for leimyosarcoma is 50 percent among all people. In people who receive a myomectomy or hysterectomy using this technology, that survivability rate drops to 16 percent or below.

Unsurprisingly, the FDA has recommended that doctors cease use of the device, and manufacturers have already pulled them from shelves. That won’t stop the lawsuits that have already been filed, and will be filed due to the device’s flawed technology, but it’s a start.