Recent advances in medicine have focused on making surgical procedures safer, less invasive, and quicker to recover from. More than 20,000 women undergo power morcellator or robotic uterine surgery each year in the U.S. with those same expectations. But it has become evident that these simplified surgical procedures can come with a great trade-off: aggressive uterine cancer.
If you or a loved one have undergone a laparoscopic morcellator procedure that was followed by a diagnosis of uterine cancer, consider speaking with a product liability lawyer at Eisbrouch Marsh to discuss your legal rights and options. A uterine fibroid surgery cancer lawsuit is not a path you need to walk alone; our attorneys will walk this road with you.
Taking on a large medical device company is not something you should do on your own. The other guys have seemingly unlimited resources and teams of lawyers. But the legal team at Eisbrouch Marsh can level the playing field with their understanding of product liability litigation and personal injuries. Our morcellator lawyers thoroughly review your case and work hand-in-hand with medical experts to prove fault.
About Uterine Power Morcellator Procedures
In recent years, the trend in the medical community has been toward laparoscopic and other minimally invasive surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is also known as “keyhole” surgery because of the small opening that they require to perform a procedure. Laparoscopic power morcellators are devices used during some laparoscopic procedures, like hysterectomies or myomectomy (uterine fibroid removal). They use a process of morcellation which breaks down tissue into smaller bits in order to remove them through the small keyhole opening.
Though uterine morcellation procedures do not require open surgery, the FDA has warned doctors not to use this method because it can spread cancer cells. It estimates that about 1 in every 350 women who undergo a hysterectomy or fibroid removal have a type of cancer that can spread as a result of morcellation. Once cancer cells are spread to the abdomen and pelvis, the chances of long-term survival are decreased.
The units used for these procedures are manufactured by several companies including:
- Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division
- Karl Storz GmbH & Co.
- Richard Wolf Medical Instruments Corp.
- LiNA Medical and Blue Endo
- Gyrus ACMI
The popular da Vinci surgical robot, by Intuitive Surgical Inc., has also received attention as a possible contributor. The da Vinci robot’s hysterectomy and myomectomy process does not involve morcellation but it still requires that the tissues of the uterus be broken down for removal, leading to similar risks.
Morcellators and Uterine Cancer Risk
As women across the country have discovered, when there is undiagnosed uterine cancer, the morcellation process of breaking down the uterine tissues can cause the cancerous cells to spread throughout the abdomen. This can quickly accelerate the cancer and decrease survival rates. Uterine morcellation procedures have been associated with particularly aggressive forms of cancer.
As the FDA warned in April 2014, 1 out of every 350 women undergoing morcellator uterine fibroid removal or hysterectomy may have undiagnosed sarcoma at risk of spreading from the procedure. The FDA’s warning urged doctors and hospitals to stop using the treatment. As a result, many medical professionals have announced that they will no longer use the device.
After the FDA announced its recommendation, a number of health insurers decided that they will no longer provide coverage for gynecological procedures using the laparoscopic power morcellator. For example, Capital BlueCross announced that it would suspend coverage for the procedures beginning November 2014 and it recommended that patients discuss alternative treatments with their physicians.
Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon, the largest morcellator manufacturer with 80% market share, voluntarily and permanently decided to stop selling the device. Ethicon issued its voluntary recall in September 2014 and by August, Senators Chuck Shumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York urged an across-the-board morcellator recall. No other manufacturer has signaled that it will follow Ethicon’s lead and pull their morcellator devices from the market.
Morcellation Cancer Lawsuit History
As a growing number of women have been diagnosed with uterine cancers following power morcellator procedures, the device manufacturers are facing product liability lawsuits. Several morcellation cancer lawsuits have been filed already and many more expected to come.
Some of the questions that these morcellator lawsuits raise are:
- Have the manufacturers released unreasonably dangerous devices?
- Were the manufacturers, or should they have been, aware of the cancer risks?
- Have the manufacturers given adequate warnings about the machines?
Plaintiffs claim that the lack of information has caused them harm because there are alternative treatments available that do not carry this cancer risk. Alternatives include traditional (non-laparoscopic) hysterectomy or myomectomy, drug therapy, and high-intensity focused ultrasound.
Morcellator lawsuits can be filed by victims who have been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, endometrial stromal sarcoma, or other serious cancers on the heels of a uterine morcellator procedure, or in some cases, their immediate families who have suffered a loss as a result. A personal injury lawsuit may provide compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other related reimbursement.
What a Morcellator Lawyer Can Do for You
If you have been injured by a uterine morcellator procedure, you need the right kind of lawyer. Medical device litigation is a specialized field that requires specialized knowledge.
At Eisbrouch Marsh, our attorneys will:
- Keep you informed every step of the way
- Be available to answer your questions
- Be up-to-date on the latest medical research
- Work closely with the medical experts who can explain your case to a jury
The lawyers at Eisbrouch Marsh routinely go up against big medical device and pharmaceutical companies. They use their legal expertise and compassion to put forward your best case.
If you or a loved one has developed uterine cancer after a morcellation procedure, call Eisbrouch Marsh for a free consultation at 201-342-5545.
- Bloomberg, FDA Discourages Uterine Procedure for Cancer Threat, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-04-17/fda-discourages-common-fibroid-removal-approach-on-cancer-threat
- The Journal of the American Medical Association, Evaluating the Risks of Electric Uterine Morcellation, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1828692
- Capital Blue, Capital BlueCross discontinues coverage for controversial device used during gynecological procedures, https://www.capbluecross.com/wps/wcm/connect/cbc-public/cbc/aboutus/press+room/news+releases/2014+news+releases/morcellatorcoveragediscontinued