Power Morcellator

What is the Power Morcellator?

A power morcellator is a surgical instrument that dates back to 1993 and is used for breaking up and removing large amounts of tissues during laparoscopic surgery, or surgery aided by a laparoscopic camera in which fewer incisions are made than in a traditional surgery. Power morcellators are often used in hysterectomies and used to mince, or morcellate, the uterus into smaller pieces for the purpose of more easily removing it from the patient. The device is made by Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Ethicon, as well as other manufacturers.

Dangers from the Power Morcellator

One of the most dangerous risks associated with the use of power morcellators is the potential for the medical device to spread undetected malignant uterine tissue, which can lead to serious health risks such as cancer. The most at risk patients are women who have uterine fibroids, a fairly common and harmless condition. However, some of these fibroids may contain a uterine sarcoma, or a condition that can cause cancer. This uterine sarcoma can mostly remain in the fibroid with no danger to the women, but when destroyed by a power morcellator can release the sarcoma and cause a cancer.

Even if this tissue is benign, once spread by a power morcellator, it can lead to the development of ectopic tissue implantation on abdominal organs, which can lead to obstructions, inflammation, and other abnormal growths that would require the patient undergo further surgical procedures.

Power Morcellator Lawsuit

In 2014, the FDA released a statement discouraging power morcellators as used in laparoscopic gynecological surgeries. Soon after, the maker suspended sales and production of the medical device across the globe. Neither the company nor the FDA issued a recall and thousands of these power morcellators remain in use to perform surgeries throughout the nation.

“It looks like the sarcoma risk is much higher than we originally thought,” said maker Ethicon. “Because of this uncertainty, Ethicon believes that a market withdrawal of Ethicon morcellation devices is the appropriate course of action at this time until further medical guidelines are established and/or new technologies are developed to mitigate the risk.”

Over 50 power morcellator lawsuits have been initiated with more to come across the country including:

  • A husband whose wife with no evidence of cancer had a power morcellator aided hysterectomy and died less than a year later, of metastatic leiomyosarcoma.
  • A mother and anesthesiologist developed advanced cancer after a hysterectomy involving a power morcellator. She claimed she suffered dissemination of pre-existing uterine cancer that was not detected in preoperative testing.