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There has been a growing debate over the course of the last few years over the safety of power morcellation in laparoscopic hysterectomies and laparoscopic myomectomies, two minimally invasive surgical procedures in which the uterus and uterine fibroids are removed respectively.
For those unfamiliar with laparoscopic power morcellation, it essentially involves a surgeon using an instrument equipped with a series of small blades — the morcellator — to cut tissue into smaller sections that can be more easily removed. However, several recently published studies have linked the use of these power morcellators to an increased incidence of uterine sarcomas, a very rare and very malignant type of tumor.
The prevailing theory is that the power morcellator essentially serves to spread any previously undetected cancerous tissue throughout the patient’s abdomen and pelvis, significantly reducing any chance at meaningful recovery and elevating the likelihood of death.
As it turns out, yet another study linking power morcellators to an elevated risk of uterine sarcoma was just published in the December 11 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
As part of the study, the researchers examined the medical records of 941 patients who had undergone laparoscopic power morcellation when getting uterine fibroids removed.
They discovered that three of the patients were diagnosed with uterine sarcoma following the initial pathology review of the sections removed via morcellation, while three others were diagnosed with the condition within two to seven years of the procedure, putting the rate of uterine sarcoma among the sample group at 0.6 percent.
While many gynecologists are actively exploring alternatives to power morcellation, the study authors indicate that additional studies must be performed in order to determine whether they are actually viable.
At the very least, they urge gynecologists to discuss all of the possible risks and complications associated with power morcellators with patients beforehand, a move that makes good sense when you consider the growing body of research.
If you have been diagnosed with uterine sarcoma and are concerned that power morcellation may have played a role, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.
Source: Medscape, “Power morcellation associated with 0.6 percent cancer incidence,” Lara Pullen, Dec. 26, 2014