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Power Morcellator Cancer Attorneys

Our product liability trial attorneys are investigating claims where undetected carcinoma was alleged to have been spread due to the use of a power morcellator during the performance of a hysterectomy.

What is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus. It may also involve removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures.

Each year in the United States, approximately 500,000 women undergo a hysterectomy.[1]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgical procedure (after cesarean section) for U.S. women.[2]

There is currently a debate over whether many hysterectomies are medical unnecessary, thereby placing women at undue risk. According some studies “anywhere from 10 to 90 percent of hysterectomies performed in the United States are not medically necessary, evidenced by the fact that today, approximately 90 percent of hysterectomies are performed electively.”[3]

A health care provider may recommend a hysterectomy if a women is experiencing the following:

  • Uterine Fibroids: Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus. In some women they cause pain or heavy bleeding.
  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis happens when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus on the ovaries where it does not belong. This can cause severe pain and bleeding between periods.
  • Uterine prolapse: This is when the uterus slips from its usual place down into the vagina. This is more common in women who had several vaginal births, but it can also happen after menopause or because of obesity. Prolapse can lead to urinary and bowel problems and pelvic pressure.
  • Cancer of the uterine, cervix, or ovaries: Hysterectomy may be the best option for cancer in one of these areas. Other treatment options may include chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Heavy or unusual vaginal bleeding: Changes in hormone levels, infection, cancer, or fibroids can cause heavy, prolonged bleeding.
  • Adenomyosis: In this condition the tissue that lines the uterus grows inside the walls of the uterus where it doesn’t belong. The uterine walls thicken and cause severe pain and heavy bleeding.
1 in 350 women undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy for the treatment of fibroids are found to have an unsuspected uterine sarcoma.

Types of Hysterectomy

There are four types of hysterectomies.[4]

  • Partial Hysterectomy: This procedure removes the body of the uterus while the cervix is left in place.
  • Total Hysterectomy: This procedure removes the entire uterus and cervix.
  • Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy: This procedure not only removes the uterus, but also the cervix ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
  • Radical Hysterectomy: Tis procedure removes the uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and possibly upper portions of the vagina and affected lymph glands.

Surgical Options

A hysterectomy can be performed several different ways.

  • Abdominal Hysterectomy: This surgical procedure removes the uterus through an incision in the lower abdomen.[5]
  • Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the uterus. A small incision is made in the belly button. A tiny camera is
    surgical_instruments_31140154_std
    inserted through which the surgeon watches the image screen and performs the procedure. Two or three other tiny incisions are made in the lower abdomen for insertion of specialized instruments for the removal process.[6]
  • Vaginal Hysterectomy: This procedure is performed through the vaginal canal and has fewer complications, shorter hospital stays and shorter healing time than abdominal surgery.[7]
  • Robot-assisted Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: This procedure is similar to a laparoscopic hysterectomy, but the surgeon controls a sophisticated robotic system of surgical tools from outside the body. Advanced technology allows the surgeon to use natural wrist movements and view the hysterectomy on a three-dimensional screen.
Risks

A hysterectomy is, generally, considered a low-risk surgery.

Most women who undergo hysterectomy have no serious complications from the surgery. However, as with any surgery, a hysterectomy can result in complications for a some women.

Complications can include the following:

  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Vaginal Prolapse
  • Fistula
  • Chronic Pain
  • Wound Infections
  • Blood Clots
  • Hemorrhage
  • Injury to Surrounding Organs
Power Morcellation

A morcellator is a surgical instrument used for division (“morsellation”) and removal of masses of tissues during laparoscopic surgery. In the performance of a hysterectomy, the uterus is extracted from the abdomen by use of the power morcellator. The uterus is morcellated into smaller pieces so that it be easily removed from inside the abdomen.

The FDA warns that power morcellation performed during a hysterectomy in women with unsuspected uterine sarcoma creates a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdomen and pelvis
FDA Warning

The FDA reports that if a laparoscopic power morcellation is used during a hysterectomy or myomectomy in women with unsuspected uterine sarcoma, there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdomen and pelvis, significantly worsening the patient’s long-term survival.[8]

Because of this risk and the availability of alternative surgical options for most women, the FDA is warning against the use of laparoscopic power morcellators in the majority of women undergoing myomectomy or hysterectomy for treatment of fibroids.

What Should I Do?

If you or a loved one underwent a hysterectomy wherein a power morcellator was used and thereafter developed uterus, pelvis or abdomen cancer, you need to protect your rights and speak to an experienced morcellator cancer attorney as soon as possible.

You may be entitled to a significant award for pain and suffering and other damages caused by the spread of undetected sarcoma due to the morcellation procedure.

Contact

Contact our experienced trial lawyers for your free, no obligation consultation.

There is never a free unless we win your case!

References

1. womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/hysterectomy.html
2. National Women’s Health Network
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/abdominal-hysterectomy/basics/definition/prc-20020767
6. mydoctor.kaiserpermanente.org
7. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysterectomy#Indications
8. FDA Warning

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