In almost every hysterectomy with a Da Vinci Surgical robot, surgeons use a hand-held tool called a power morcellator to grind up tissue. Unfortunately, morcellators can leave behind cancerous cells, “seeding” tumors throughout a woman’s abdomen and pelvis.
Need a Hysterectomy Lawyer? If you or your loved one was diagnosed with uterine cancer after a hysterectomy or fibroid surgery with a DaVinci surgical robot, contact our law firm immediately for a free case consultation. If you file a lawsuit, you could receive compensation for your injury, medical expenses, and more.
UPDATE: Hysterectomy Cancer “Black Box” Warnings
November 24, 2014 – Hysterectomies performed with the Da Vinci Surgical Robot nearly always involve a hand-held surgical tool known as a power morcellator. However, the FDA is warning that morcellators can potentially spread undiagnosed cancer, greatly worsening a woman’s chances of long-term survival.
Da Vinci Hysterectomy
Every year, over 600,000 women in the United States have a hysterectomy — surgery to remove the uterus. In 2010, about 9.5% of all hysterectomies were performed with the Da Vinci Surgical Robot, up from 0.5% in 2007.
The robot is marketed to women as safer, less painful, with a faster recovery and less chance of complications. However, studies have shown that a robotic hysterectomy is about $2,100 more expensive — but no better than traditional “keyhole” surgery (also known as laparoscopy). There is also concern about increased risks, such as cancer.
Were You Diagnosed with Cancer After a Da Vinci Hysterectomy?
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with uterine cancer after a hysterectomy with the Da Vinci robot, you are not alone. In April 2014, the FDA published a Safety Communication to warn against using power morcellators in hysterectomies and fibroid surgeries.
The Da Vinci robot is not a morcellator, but it is common for surgeons to use the robot for the initial part of the surgery and then follow up with a morcellator. The morcellator works like a hand-held electric blinder, slicing the uterus into smaller pieces inside the woman’s abdomen that can be easily extracted from the body.
The problem is that morcellators are sloppy — they tend to leave behind tiny bits of tissue. If the tissue contains cancerous cells, it could “seed” cancer throughout a woman’s abdomen and greatly reduce her chances of survival.
What is the Risk?
The FDA estimates that 1 in 350 women who undergoes fibroid surgery actually has uterine sarcoma, and 1 in 500 has highly-aggressive leiomyosarcoma. This study also linked morcellators with endometrial stromal sarcoma. Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to know if a woman has cancer unless a tissue sample is removed and examined under a microscope by a pathologist.
Doctors Call on FDA to Ban Morcellator Hysterectomies
According to Dr. Hooman Noorchasm, who has filed a Change.org petition to ban morcellators in gynecological surgery:
“Without morcellation using equipment manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, robotic hysterectomies would, likely, not be possible using the DaVinci Robot. It is noteworthy that the DaVinci robot does not appear to have a readily available warning label advising against its use to morcellate tumors with malignant potential inside the body.”
Dr. Noorchasm’s wife, Dr. Amy Reed, was diagnosed with stage-4 leiomyosarcoma after having fibroid surgery with a power morcellator. She has only a 15% chance of surviving longer than 5 years. They warn that women with sarcoma who are morcellated are about 4 times more likely to die from sarcoma than if they had not been morcellated.
Robot Hysterectomy With Morcellator Linked to Woman’s Death
November 2014 – The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported that a 44 year-old mother from New York died after a two-year battle with cancer that was allegedly spread by a morcellator during a robotic hysterectomy in 2012.
Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturer of power morcellators, stopped selling the devices after the FDA Safety Communication and initiated a global market withdrawal soon after. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Johnson & Johnson was warned about the risk of morcellators spreading cancer in 2006, eight years before the products were pulled off the market.
Do I have a DaVinci Hysterectomy Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Medical Device Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Need a Lawyer? Again, if you or a loved one was diagnosed with cancer after being treated with a power morcellator during a hysterectomy or fibroid surgery, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a DaVinci hysterectomy lawsuit, and we can help.