Major Concerns Around Power Morcellators
Do you know what power morcellators are? If you are going to go for liver or spleen surgery, you are being treated for uterine fibroids, or scheduled for a hysterectomy, you will definitely want to know about power morcellators. Why? What are they? They are medical instruments used as an alternative to traditional laparoscopic devices. They operate in a unique way – grinding tissue (which is why the term “morcel” appears in the name), and allowing the tools to suction it away. They do not require the patient to be opened up and can cut recover times down substantially.
They sound wonderful, and doctors have responded to their initial marketing with favor, but they are also the subject of ongoing legal concerns. This is because they are now known to spread cancerous tissue in both male and female patients.
The Story With Power Morcellators
What is the story with them? Essentially, the bad news began when a female physician in Boston had fibroid tumors (which are non-cancerous growths) removed via a power morcellator. The woman actually suffered from undetected cancer, and the procedure allowed cancerous tissue and cells to be sprayed throughout her abdominal cavity. She developed terminal cancer because the procedure allowed it to metastasize widely and become an almost untreatable form of the disease.
Once she made her story public, more and more cases began to be uncovered. Then, the use of the devices on the livers and spleens of male and female patients showed that some were also suffering such catastrophic outcomes. Once news began to spread, one of the leading makers of power morcellators (Johnson & Johnson) decided to suspend sales on their devices, pending further studies.
Lawsuits and Power Morcellators
Because all of this has developed in such a short period of time (as recently as 2014), it is difficult to determine what the legal ramifications for the manufacturer and physicians using power morcellators is going to be. Naturally, anyone who did have a surgical procedure that used a power morcellator, and if they subsequently developed aggressive cancer, they must follow up with a physician and a qualified attorney.
The trouble for the makers of power morcellator devices is that there had long been knowledge of the fact that the way the tools work is likely to also spread tissue (whether healthy or diseased) throughout the abdominal cavity. There had already been issues in which power morcellation caused benign masses to develop, and this should have subsequently alerted medical experts and manufacturers that the devices were not suitable for patients not pre-screened for cancer prior to treatment. Currently, it is the laparoscopic devices that are the focus of lawsuits and studies. There are also “hysteroscopic” devices of this kind, which use collection bags to prevent the debris from spreading into the body. Initial studies are promising and show that they do not lead to any increased risk for cancer. However, for those that were treated with the laparoscopic morcellators, it is a bit too late.
Whether you had a hysterectomy using a morcellator or you needed some sort of liver or spleen surgery, you were put at risk for the spread of cancerous or benign tissue throughout your abdominal area. Both types of tissue can necessitate further medical treatment, and cancerous tissue can lead to the spread of the disease to other organs. The first thing to do is to visit your physician for a health screening, and if you have already had to undergo additional treatment for the removal of masses or to pursue cancer treatment, you must visit a lawyer.
You should not have to pay for medical care that is due to a preventable and avoidable issue. A good lawyer can help you to build your case and seek compensation to cover medical expenses and more.
DrugWatch.com. Power Morcellators. 2015. http://www.drugwatch.com/morcellators/