Though the FDA has already stepped in and discouraged their use, many women who have received treatment via a power morcellator are looking for lawyer assistance. This device is typically used to remove benign tumors of the uterus, known as fibroids, and is extremely simple in principle.
The idea behind it seems sound – using safer laparoscopic techniques to fish the device to the treatment area and engaging the device to mince the fibroid. Once minced, the problematic tissue is drawn in through a long cylinder built into the device and extracted through the laparoscopic incision. While the theory makes sense, the treatment has proven to be hazardous in practice.
WHY ARE WOMEN WHO HAVE RECEIVED TREATMENT VIA A MORCELLATOR SEARCHING FOR A LAWYER?
Fibroids are benign tumors, and on their own they don’t pose a major risk to a woman’s health. In some cases, fibroids may cause abdominal discomfort or pain, painful sexual intercourse or painful menstruation. These complications can lead many women to fibroid removal surgery.
However, according to a study published by Fertility and Sterility in 2011, about one in 1,000 women have an undiagnosed leiomyosarcoma, a cancer of the uterus, in addition to fibroid tumors. During surgery, destroying uterine tissue can cause cancerous tissue to escape and root elsewhere, effectively “waking it up” and allowing it to spread. This can result in an immediate onset of aggressive, possibly fatal cancer. The FDA has echoed this fear, asserting that the risk of activating a hidden cancer may be as high as one in 350. Those are terrible odds when the consequence can be life-threatening.
In addition to hidden cancer, these devices have also shown to be ineffective at completely removing destroyed tissue, allowing some of it to remain in the body following surgery. This can cause a variety of complications, including parasitic growth and bowel dysfunction. While not generally life threatening, retained tissue can leave a patient feeling worse, forcing them to seek additional treatment to ameliorate symptoms.
Women aren’t the only ones at risk, either. These devices are also used to deal with spleen or kidney growths, and hidden cancers in these organs can be activated in both men and women.
ARE POWER MORCELATORS STILL BEING USED DURING SURGERY?
In April 2014, the FDA released a statement calling for surgeons to cease using the devices for hysterectomies or the removal of uterine fibroids. In response, Johnson & Johnson pulled its models from the market, citing uncertainty with current research as a reason for the move. Some groups have demanded a recall in light of the study published by Fertility and Sterility.
With so much doubt now surrounding the power morcellator, a personal injury lawyer may be needed to help victims review their options for compensation. Using this device carries known risks now, and if a doctor opts for it without thoroughly checking for any hidden cancers, they are putting their patients in grave danger.