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Morcellator Used During Hysterectomy May Spread Cancer

Mellino Law Firm

Did a doctor use a power morcellator during your hysterectomy or fibroid removal surgery? If so, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office with any questions you may have.

Anesthesiologist Brings Morcellator Danger to Light

In October 2013, Dr. Amy Reed, an anesthesiologist and mother of six, underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy to have fibroids removed. As umm.edu has stated, “Fibroids are the most common type of tumor found in female reproductive organs.”

Typically, the word ‘tumor’ sends a patient into a panic, said WebMD. “But when it’s a fibroid tumor, experts say there is little to fear.” In fact, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology told the site’s writers, “There is virtually no threat of malignancy — and there are a number of excellent treatment options, as well as the option to do nothing at all — so there really is no reason to worry.”

Unfortunately, that is no longer true for Reed, whose surgeon used a power morcellator to shred her fibroids. During that hysterectomy, doctors discovered leiomyosarcoma, which is “an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma derived from smooth muscle cells typically of uterine, gastrointestinal or soft tissue origin,” according to sarcomahelp.org. Morcellation “increased the likelihood that the cancer would spread throughout her abdomen,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Reed told WSJ that it’s difficult to keep her fear under control because, as a doctor, she knows about the worst that can happen.

She and her husband wrote a change.org petition that urges doctors to stop using power morcellators or, at least, consider using a bag that will prevent cancer cells from spreading. Currently, the petition states, doctors aren’t using this bag because they don’t know about it, haven’t been trained to use it, and “bag morcellation takes more time – and time is money.”

Contemporary OB/GYN stated, “Strong consideration should also be given to alternative specimen retrieval options that are associated with decreased risk of retained specimen fragments or cellular seeding. In particular, a focus on innovations in preoperative screening for uterine sarcomas as well as advanced morcellating technology is critical to improve patient outcomes.”

Reed’s petition calls out companies such as Johnson & Johnson’s ETHICON, which suspended sales of its power morcellators in April, as well as Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci Robot, which “does not appear to have a readily available warning label advising against its use to morcellate tumors with malignant potential inside the body.”

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