Both your grandmother and great-grandmother died from uterine cancer, so when you were diagnosed with fibroids in your uterus, you weren’t going to take any chances. After discussing it with your doctor, you scheduled a hysterectomy that same day. You were able to get their first appointment and only had to wait two weeks.
It has now been about three months since the procedure, but you remember it as if it were yesterday. Your surgeon explained the process and told you that he was going to perform the procedure laparoscopically to avoid scarring and decrease your recovery time. He told you that he’d be using a surgical tool called a morcellator to extract pieces of your uterus through small incisions. When he told you about it, you remembered a news story you heard about morcellators and their safety so you made sure you discussed your concerns and that he was aware of the reasoning behind your choice for a hysterectomy. He assured you that using the morcellator was the safest option and that you would be good as new in no time.
He was wrong.
Last week you had a follow-up appointment where your primary doctor ordered images and blood work to make sure everything was normal. When the tests came back, she discovered that you had several sarcoma (cancer cells) masses in your lower abdomen and pelvic region that were not there three weeks ago.
What could have happened? You had the hysterectomy to prevent cancer and now there are masses in several places besides your uterus? Were they there all along but no one noticed or did the removal of your uterus actually cause them?
How a Hysterectomy Can Increase Cancer Risks
A power morcellator is a surgical tool with a rotary blade that is used in laparoscopic surgeries to pulverize large areas of tissue into smaller pieces. It is inserted through small incision points surrounding the affected area and, once it slices the tissue into manageable pieces, it suctions them out through a tube. Although this method allows for smaller scars, less surgical pain and a shorter recovery time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its concerns. The FDA recently issued a report about the possible risks power morcellators have in potentially spreading cancerous cells deeper into a patient’s abdomen during hysterectomies.
In April of 2014, an FDA-issued warning advised surgeons to halt use of the tool during uterine procedures because women who have uterine fibroids could also potentially have undiagnosed sarcoma (a type of cancer cell). If the uterus does indeed have cancerous cells, the rotary motion of the morcellator could disperse these cells deeper into the abdomen and pelvis, causing the cancer to spread rapidly throughout the body. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell whether or not sarcoma (or other cancerous cells) are present along with fibroids, which is why the FDA recommends that morcellators aren’t used during laparoscopic hysterectomies.
Proving Your Case For a Malpractice Claim
Unfortunately, despite the FDA reports and recommendations, some surgeons still praise the morcellator for its usefulness in hysterectomy procedures and continue to use it. If your surgeon was one of these die-hard fans and you’ve suffered the consequences of his disregard, you may have a case for malpractice. Contact us today to see how we can help you file and justify your claim. We’ll help you gather the evidence you need to establish liability, such as:
- Medical reports
- Second- and third-party testimonials
- Medical images (both before and after the surgery to show the spread of masses)
- Surgical notes
- FDA reports
We know how difficult it is to prove a malpractice case, especially when you’re trying to do it alone. Let our knowledge and experience help you get the settlement and peace of mind you desire, while making sure the people who harmed you get what’s coming to them. Call now—you’ll be glad you did.
Tell Us How You Feel
Given the potential risks involved, do you think it’s appropriate for surgeons to continue using morcellators during hysterectomies? Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Do you think the FDA should recall them? Let us know your thoughts by leaving your opinions and questions in the comment section. If you found this article interesting, like us on Facebook for more information and legal advice.