Reports of power morcellators causing the spread of cancerous tissues, called uterine sarcoma, caused a stir in the medical field during the first quarter of 2014. This was followed by a safety communication notice issued by the US Food and Drug Administration on April 17, 2014, which discouraged doctors from further using a morcellator in laparoscopic (or minimally invasive) surgeries, such as hysterectomy (the medical procedure for the removal of the uterus and/or fibroids) and myomectomy (the procedure for removing uterine fibroids or myomas). Not long after, individual lawsuits started to be filed by women who have been diagnosed with the rare, but aggressive cancer leiomyosarcoma after having received a morcellation treatment.
A power morcellator is a medical device that is designed to mince large masses of tissues into tiny pieces. It is used in the minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery. After its introduction in the early 1990’s it immediately became very popular due to the many benefits it provided, such as short recovery period for the patient, lesser blood loss, reduced chances of infection, and the very tiny incisions it required (about 0.5 – 1cm cuts on the abdomen, compared to the 5-7 inch incisions needed to perform the traditional abdominal hysterectomy).
Three of the most recognized power morcellator were the Gynecare Morcellex, the Gynecare X-Tract and the Morcellex Sigma, all from Ethicon, a unit of Johnson & Johnson and the world’s largest manufacturer of power morcellators. Despite its superbly designed and manufactured morcellators, though, Ethicon found it wiser to suspend all sales, promotion and distribution of the devices rather than find itself in another claims lawsuit.
The cause of the cancer women have been diagnosed with is uterine sarcoma, a cancerous tissue that is almost impossible to detect. The spread of this cancerous tissue happens during the removal of uterine fibroids; as the fibroids are minced, so are the cancerous tissues, making these spread easily outside of the uterus.
It will be wise for women, who may be suffering from cancer due to morcellation treatment, to immediately contact a morcellator lawyer who can help them understand the law and the best legal actions that will help them receive compensation from the manufacturer of the device they had been treated with.