Fibroids are muscular tumors that most commonly develop in the walls of a woman’s uterus. A majority of women will develop uterine fibroids by the time they are 50, according to the Department of Health’s Office on Women’s Health (OWH). These tumors are typically benign (noncancerous) and do not cause problems in every woman that has them. But, many women with uterine fibroids experience great pain and menstrual complications. They have to seek treatment through surgical removal of the fibroids.
Surgical Removal of Fibroids and the Power Morcellator
Surgical removal of uterine fibroids is usually done one of two ways:
- Myomectomy – Removal of the uterine fibroids. This leaves the rest of the uterus intact, but fibroids could grow back.
- Hysterectomy – Complete removal of the uterus. This is the only way to stop fibroid growth.
For years, both of the surgeries required invasive procedures. But, in the mid-1990s doctors began using a new tool, the power morcellator, to help do the surgeries laparoscopically.
A power morcellator is a small tube with small surgical blades inside. During a laparoscopic myomectomy or hysterectomy, the surgeon inserts it into a small incision in the abdomen and its blades fragment the uterine tissue. The tissue then gets suctioned out through the tube.
The Power Morcellator and Increased Risk of Cancer
In 2014, the FDA revealed a hidden danger of using the tool to remove uterine fibroids.
The FDA warned that because uterine fibroids may sometimes unknowingly be malignant (cancerous) the spinning blades of a power morcellator could spread the cancerous tissue throughout the abdomen and pelvis. The FDA did not ban the use of the power morcellator. They just encouraged its limited use and advised doctors to discuss the risks of its use with patients before surgery.
Power Morcellator Lawsuit
Many believe that the power morcellator manufacturers may have known about the tool’s potential risk before the FDA warning. But, they did not adequately warn doctors and patients. For years, the manufacturers used a statistic stating that 1 in 10,000 women requiring uterine fibroid removal surgery had undetected uterine cancer to convince doctors and patients of its safe use in fibroid removal. But, several studies later revealed a significantly higher ratio of undetected uterine cancer in women. It seems the manufacturers may have chosen to ignore or deny the new findings and not warn of the increased risk.
Lawsuits are being filed across the country against power morcellator manufacturers by women or their loved ones who believe the tool spread their cancer. They seek compensation for medical costs and pain-and-suffering. They also want to hold the manufacturers accountable and save other women the risk of cancer.
If you have cancer or lost a loved one to cancer you believe was caused by the use of a power morcellator during surgery, you could receive compensation. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free evaluation of your situation to see if we can help you.