Sometimes older is better. Sometimes the newest “thing” on the block doesn’t work as well as the old tried and true method. This is true for some cases in new cardiac stents versus bypass surgery, and now we know it’s true in cases involving Johnson & Johnson’s Power Morcellator! I’m assuming if you’re reading this blog you know what a power morcellator actually is, and what it does. You’re likely a woman who had uterine fibroids removed. This device is commonly used but relatively unknown. Learning about it and its devastating effects has been an education for our firm.
Eight years ago a pathologist wrote to J & J’s corporate subsidiary asking them to reconsider their use of the power morcellator, and this fact was only just recently reported in Pittsburgh Business Times on May 30, 2014. The morcellator is a device that is used to divide or split up fibrous tissue making it easier to remove. According to the medical dictionary, “morcellation is the division of solid tissue (such as a tumor) into pieces, which can then be removed.”
The power morcellator uses rotating blades like a blender to literally blend up the uterine fibroid inside the body so that the doctor can make a small cut in the abdomen and remove the fragments of fiber through the small cut.
Here’s the problem: there is no process in place to figure out if the patient has uterine cancer before the surgery! That common-sense step is completely missing before or after the cutting process. If the fibroid was checked for cancer before the procedure then a standard hysterectomy would be a far better option! It could be a lifesaving option! It would stop the spread of cancer cells throughout the woman’s entire pelvic area and then throughout her body.
The pathologist told J & J years ago that a hysterectomy was better in those cases because no damage can occur. But if a morcellation is performed then “the patient’s survival is jeopardized” because cancer can be cut open and left in the body allowing it to metastasize and spread. This could be a death sentence and certainly not worth the risk when the older hysterectomy procedure was so much safer.
Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally issued a warning that power morcellators can spread previously undetected cancer. This warning is way too late! Now it looks like Johnson & Johnson may have 8 years of women who may suffer terribly because they didn’t understand the risks associated with Morcellation. It appears they made the decision that it is better to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in morcellators. How tragic. How evil.
The LaBovick Law Group is angered at this indifference. In our firm, there are seven women who have family members at risk. We are investigating cases of women who have been diagnosed with cancer following an OB-GYN doctor’s use of a power morcellator to remove uterine fibroids. Don’t wait. If you’ve undergone this procedure in the past get checked. If you are battling cancer please call us to help you look into this possible cause.
The safer alternative is a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and fibroids intact. There is no middle ground. Power morcellators should have never been manufactured, approved or used by surgeons because this medical device endangers the lives of women.
The FDA Alert
On April 17, 2014, the FDA issued a warning advising doctors that as many as one in 350 women who undergo a power morcellation procedure is at risk for the spread of cancer. An FDA Advisory Committee will convene to discuss the serious risks of power morcellation to a woman’s health at a hearing scheduled for July 10th and 11th, 2014.
The FDA advises women who have already undergone a hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroids and have been told that testing of the tissue removed during the power morcellation procedure was negative for the presence of cancer should have routine follow-ups with their physicians.