More Top Hospitals Ban the Use of Morcellators for Hysterectomies

May 12th, 2014 at 7:00 am

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Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System have been added to the growing list of prominent hospitals who have suspended the use of a surgical device used in hysterectomies because it can cause the spread of cancer.

Forty percent of hysterectomies are done because of the presence of painful fibroid tumors. The device that these hospitals have banned is a power morcellator, which is used to help remove fibroid tumors during hysterectomies.

The use of a morcellator involves making a small incision near the belly button to remove the uterus. Recovery time is three to five days, compared to four to six weeks when the uterus is removed via conventional surgery.

Surgeons use the morcellator to slice up the fibroids or the entire uterus, thus allowing the tissue to be removed through the tiny incision that was made.

But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced the dangers associated with morcellation because the procedure can spread any cancer cells that may be present in the fibroids or the uterus, leaving them behind in the abdomen and pelvic area.

According to the FDA, one in every 350 women who undergo the procedure has uterine cancer which goes undetectable in any pre-operative testing. The spreading of these cancer cells by this procedure significantly decreases rates of long-term survival.

A solution to the issue is to put a bag around the device while the procedure is being performed in order to catch any of that tissue. However, adding the bag would require additional training for surgeons and this could drive up the cost of the procedure.

Studies revealing the dangers of the procedure spreading cancer cells have been around for several years. In 2011, researchers from South Korea presented at a medical conference in Florida their findings of a study they did comparing morcellating tumors or removing them whole. In the group of patients whose tumors were removed whole, 19 percent died within five years. In the group of patients whose tumors were morcellated, 44 percent died within three years. There have been similar results in studies done by studies done in Boston and in Germany.

If you have been left struggling with serious health problems after having a hysterectomy done, contact an experienced Connecticut medical malpractice attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.

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