A recent report published by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) claims a commonly used surgical device may spread cancer cells throughout the body. According to the GAO, laparoscopic power morcellators can seed new tumors in patients with undiagnosed uterine cancer. Power morcellators, which cut up large chunks of soft tissue into smaller pieces, have been used to conduct minimally invasive gynecological and abdominal surgeries since 1991. More than 50,000 women undergo surgery with these devices annually.
In 2013, an adverse event report involving a power morcellator was sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a patient who underwent a procedure with this device. The 40-year-old woman who sent the report had received a hysterectomy to treat fibroids, noncancerous growths in the uterus.
However, she had an aggressive and undiagnosed form of uterine cancer at the time she was treated. The power morcellator used during the procedure seeded tumor cells throughout her body. These tumor cells became advanced stage IV cancer, which spread to her abdomen, spine and lungs.
Media coverage from the woman’s case caused others who experienced similar circumstances to file adverse event reports with the FDA. By late 2016, the FDA received 285 reports involving these devices spreading cancer in patients. The FDA estimates 1 in every 350 women with fibroids may have undetected uterine cancer. This means hundreds or thousands of women treated for fibroids with power morcellators may have died needlessly.
Treated with a Laparoscopic Power Morcellator? You May Have Legal Options
The patient behind the first adverse event report has required chemotherapy, radiation and other painful treatments to treat her stage IV cancer. It is possible many other women have suffered from the same experience. These treatments are painful, expensive and not guaranteed to save lives.
Women harmed by laparoscopic power morcellators, or their family members, should contact an attorney to explore legal options. Depending on the circumstances, the manufacturers of these devices and other parties may be held accountable.
The New Jersey product liability attorneys at Keefe Law Firm are dedicated to helping people needlessly harmed by dangerous medical devices.