Months after the FDA discouraged doctors from using power morcellators, medical professionals are still including the tool in their non-invasive procedures. In fact, nearly 50 physicians sent a letter to the FDA hoping to rescind its position. Here is the information you need to know about the controversial medical tool.

What are power morcellators?

According to the FDA, power morcellators are a type of medical device used for minimally invasive surgeries such as hysterectomies, myomectomies or other procedures to treat uterine fibroids. The name “morcellator” refers to the action of dividing tissues into small fragments, a necessary process to remove tissues in small incision sites.

What are the risks involved?

Because of how a morcellator works, there is a potential for spreading unsuspected cancer. When the tissues are divided into small fragments it is easy to leave pieces behind that are infected, which can then cause the cancerous tissue to spread rapidly beyond the uterus. Although still legal to use, the FDA has discouraged doctors from employing power morcellators in their hysterectomy or myomectomy procedures.

Why are physicians pushing back?

If the FDA discourages using morcellators, then why are physicians pushing back? Many doctors believe that the cancer risks are overinflated and that the benefits of the tool far outweigh the risks. Dallas gynecologist Jeffrey Thurston said in the Wall Street Journal that he explains the risks to patients, but also notes that the FDA's data is inaccurate. Other physicians have echoed this claim, citing that it is incredibly misleading. Many patients prefer to have the option of using the morcellator as there can be distinct advantages compared to similar procedures like a vaginal hysterectomy, which might have increased post-operative recovery time.

When should I be concerned?

If you had some kind of uterine noninvasive surgery in the past, you may want to contact your doctor's office to determine if a power morcellator was used in the procedure. This is especially important if you later developed cancer in surrounding areas, although you should still confirm its use even if you did not develop cancer. An estimated 1 in 350 women who undergo a hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroid treatment have uterine cancer.

If you believe that the use of a power morcellator in your procedure without your knowledge caused the rapid spread of uterine cancer, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can help answer your questions.