Nasdaq reports that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently investigating laparoscopic power morcellators, a type of surgical tool known to spread cancer in women. According to the article, in recent months the FBI has interviewed a retired pathologist who notified Johnson & Johnson—the largest manufacturer of power morcellators—of the problems associated with the device; a doctor who has spoken out about power morcellators’ cancer-spreading side effects; and a California woman with names of nearly 400 patients who may have been harmed by the instrument. News of the investigation comes just days after health care giant Aetna announced it would no longer be covering routine power morcellator procedures.
Power morcellators are used in minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, surgery to cut up large masses of tissue into smaller, extractable pieces. The device is especially popular in hysterectomies, where it is employed to “mince up” a woman’s uterus for removal through the abdomen. Power morcellators are considered an important tool for minimally invasive removal uterine fibroids. However, power morcellators are now falling out of favor due to mounting evidence that they may spread cancer in patients treated with them.
In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert about the use of power morcellators. The agency urged surgeons to stop using power morcellators in hysterectomies or myomectomies for uterine fibroids because the device may spread unidentified cancerous tissue to other areas of the body. Later that year, a Columbia University study estimated that 1 in 368 women have undiscovered uterine cancer when they undergo a gynecological procedure. As a result, surgeons may unknowingly be spreading cancer in thousands of female patients each year.
Power morcellator lawsuits have been filed by women diagnosed with cancer after surgery involving the device. Plaintiffs in power morcellator lawsuits claim that manufacturers, such as Johnson & Johnson, knew of the health risks posed by their devices but failed to properly warn doctors and patients, in some cases hiding important medical information.
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with cancer after a gynecological procedure using a power morcellator, contact Lopez McHugh today to speak with one of our experienced medical device attorneys. Our medical device lawyers can help you decide if a power morcellator lawsuit is right for you.