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A power morcellator is a medical device used most often in female-specific surgeries like hysterectomies. The morcellator is used to grind uterine fibroids into microscopic pieces so that it can then be removed from a woman’s uterus by small incisions in her abdomen.
The technique has had widespread appeal for both surgeons and patients in the past given the minimal invasion nature of the procedure. The procedure is used during a robotic assisted or laparoscopic operation, requires only a tiny incision, and involves a shorter hospital stay.
However, a recent study shows that power morcellation can cause serious and sometimes fatal complications. The issue arises if the fibroid that is to be removed is pre-cancerous or cancerous. The tool has been found to spread cancerous tissues in a way that can make the cancer rapidly spread and be upstaged shortly after surgery.
In April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration issued an official warning to surgeons who used the device on their patients. The warning told physicians not to use the device because of the risk it poses to women who may have cancerous cells in the tissues that are to be removed.
According to recent data from the Journal PLOS One, uterine morcellation carries a risk of “disseminating unexpected malignancy with apparent associated risk of mortality much higher than appreciated currently.”
Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary and a maker of over 70% of the morcellator market has decided to stop sales of its morcellators to medical facilities but did not recall any devices previously sold.
The FDA estimates that one in every 350 woman who have a female specific surgery, like a hysterectomy, are at risk for uterine cancer making the amount of women who could be affected from this devices extremely high.
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