On May 18th, 2012, a California woman had a surgical procedure known as a supracervical hysterectomy performed. At that time, she was under the impression that the surgery was to remove benign fibroids and had been told there was no evidence that she had cancer.
During her hysterectomy, a Wolf Power Morcellator was used. A power morcellator is a surgical instrument commonly used in laparoscopic surgeries. The morcellator is used to cut up large pieces of tissue into smaller sections which can then be removed in a minimally invasive fashion. However, it was determined in recent years that while the morcellator is slicing up the tissue into smaller pieces it can also spreading cells throughout the abdominal cavity. When a patient has unsuspected malignant cancer and the morcellator cuts through that cancer, cells of that cancer can be spread to regions of the body that it may not have previously metastasized to.
In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a Safety Communication, warning against the use of morcellators during hysterectomies and myomectomies. It was estimated that 1 in 350 women undergoing a hysterectomy had undiagnosed malignant cancer in their uterus, which made use of the morcellator dangerous.
In this particular case, filed in the United States District Court Northern District of California under case number 5:14-cv-02209-EJD, the patient was informed after her hysterectomy that one of the fibroids that had been removed contained a form of malignant cancer known as leiomyosarcoma.
Leiomyosarcoma is a form of cancer that does not generally respond well to chemotherapy and radiation. The best outcomes occur when the cancer is removed surgically with a wide surgical margin as soon as it has been detected. Because wide margins are needed during a surgical removal, the morcellator is not a good option for anyone who has been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma.
After her diagnosis, the patient was informed that because of the use of the power morcellator during her surgery, she would have to undergo continued imaging and checks for metastasis. She has developed multiple lesions on her lungs that are suspected to be metastatic leiomyosarcoma which were likely spread by the power morcellator. The lawsuit alleges that “because of the risk of metastatic disease, the plaintiff has undergone and continues to undergo aggressive treatment and therapy that has caused the plaintiff injury and severe pain and suffering.” It is further alleged that she was not warned about the possibility of dissemination of an undetected uterine leiomyosarcoma prior to her surgery.
Recently, one of the first morcellator lawsuits filed was settled for an undisclosed amount. If you or a loved one feel that you can identify with any of the facts presented, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible.