On women: Why should I care what a Power Morcellator is?

‘Power Morcellator’ until very recently was not a phrase I had ever uttered, but it seems women should be talking about this very thing.

In brief, a power morcellator is used in key-hole surgery to break fibroids into tiny pieces in gynaecological operations, making it easier to remove them and avoiding open surgery with its attendant risks such as infection and long recovery times.

However, there has been some worrying evidence emerging from the US that in women where the uterine fibroid turns out to be cancerous (about 1 in 350), their long term prognosis is severely reduced.

“Earlier this year, the United States Federal Drug Agency (FDA) expressed concern about women undergoing laparoscopic power morcellation for the treatment of uterine fibroids and the risk of inadvertent spread of unsuspected cancer (sarcoma) to the abdominal and pelvic cavities, and issued guidance on its use.” BRIEFING September 2014 – Sarcoma UK


The current explanation to account for this is tiny pieces of fibroid tissue are inevitably left behind in the pelvic cavity, which in the case of a malignancy aids the cancer in spreading throughout the abdomen. A way to reduce this risk (from my reading) is to use a bag to collect the tissue (so all the morcellated tissue is contained and removed), but this is not happening routinely at the moment, although the reason for this is unclear – may relate to cost as it makes procedure longer, or the fact that surgeons are not aware of this safety modification.

Clearly there are benefits to this method and I have not looked at data on mortality rates for alternative and possibly more invasive or complex surgical methods. This article from the Wall Street Journal gives the background to the campaign (started by a doctor whose wife developed stage 4 cancer after morcellation) and presents a relatively balanced view on this technique.

“Hooman Noorchashm isn’t a gynecologist, but his battle against a common—and potentially dangerous—hysterectomy procedure has triggered a heated debate and yielded changes in how it is done.”

Although there doesn’t seem to be any current cases in the UK, Sarcoma UK has published some guidelines to women about what to ask your surgeon and what to do if this method was used on you and you are now worried. NICE is apparently publishing guidelines on the use of power morcellators in fibroid surgery in October 2014. But until they do, I think it is important that women are made aware of this issue so they can make informed choices and be able to ask for an alternative surgical method if they are concerned.

If you want to know more about this issue click here for the American Recall Centre, but bear in mind the website is sponsored by WEITZ & LUXENBERG P.C., a law firm focusing on providing legal services to clients injured by negligent corporations and/or entities.

Are you about to have surgery for fibroids? Do you know what method is being used? Have the risks been fully explained to you?

One thought on “On women: Why should I care what a Power Morcellator is?”

  1. Follow up re Linda lusardi’s story about her fibroid/tumour and her appearance today on loose women today!!!! Linda was one of the lucky ones!! Worryingly doctors have no definitive way to distinguish between sarcoma of the uterus LEIMYOSARCOMA and fibroids preoperatively. It is estimated that approx 1:350 women with fibroids actually contain a hidden cancer! According to sarcoma UK almost 300 women were diagnosed with a uterine sarcoma in the UK last year and 84% were diagnosed post op. The only curative treatment for uterine sarcomas and leimyosarcoma is surgical removal with clear margins as it is generally chemo resistant!!!! Most women are now recommended minimally invasive hysterectomies that involve either manual or power morcelkation and this is very concerning as this could lead to their Cancer being upstaged and spread!!! The USA have caught on to this deady practice and the FDA have become involved after Dr Amy Reed went public with her personal story and battle with leimyosarcoma that was upstaged to stage 4. More awareness, proper triaging and informed consent is needed here in the UK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NICE guidlines on hysterscopic morcellation are shocking!!!! They admit there is the potential for serious harm and they encourage research!!! At what cost?? A human life??? Who’s next??? Not acceptable!!!! Please write a story on this as all Women have the right to know. It could save someones life and not issue her a death sentence!!! Please keep my name private but please let me know if you decide to run a story!!!!! Please do!!!!!!

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