A power morcellator is a tiny device that allows surgeons to remove uterine fibroids and perform hysterectomies laproscopically. By using this device, a surgeon can perform a procedure in a minimally invasive way, which means faster recovery times and less pain for women patients. A power morcellator may also be used in nephrectomies or splenectomies – kidney and spleen surgeries, respectively.
What are the problems associated with these devices?
The power morcellator performs two jobs simultaneously:
- Small blades spin around to break down the tissue
- A vacuum sucks up any pieces to remove them from the body
The problem starts when the vacuum fails to remove all of the remaining tissue; now that the tissue is loose, it can travel through the blood stream to other parts of the body.
While fibroids are non-cancerous, their tissue can attach elsewhere, resulting in the need to remove more masses throughout the body. The problem is compounded when the mass being broken up contains cancerous tissue. Uterine sarcomas are rare cancerous tissues which may not be detected until after a post-op review is done. They look and act just like fibroids – and they are extremely aggressive. Women with this form of cancerous tissues are at an increased risk of having the sarcomas metastasize throughout their body after a morcellation procedure. If not caught and treated quickly, the cancer can be deadly.
Who is responsible?
A number of companies manufacture power morcellators, including:
- Blue Endo
- Cook Urological, Inc.
- Ethicon, Inc.
- Ethicon of FemRx
- LiNA Medical
- Lumenis, Ltd.
- KSE America
- Karl Storz GmbH & Co.
- Richard Wolf GmbH
- Smith & Nephew
In April of 2014, the FDA issued a notice to discourage the use of power morcellators for the removal of fibroids or for hysterectomies. The FDA claims that as many as 1 in 350 women who have had the procedure may be at increased risk of cancer. John & Johnson and its subsidiaries immediately stopped selling the product in the US and abroad.
For more information about power morcellators, please visit www.plaxenadler.com.