Karl Storz Endovision Inc. find themselves named as the defendants in a power morcellator lawsuit filed on January 26th, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Michigan under case number 2:15-cv-10352-TGB-APP. This is just one of many lawsuits which have been filed against companies who manufacture power morcellators.
A Michigan woman, who underwent surgical procedures known as a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy and bilateral salpingectomy to treat her uterine fibroids on June 14th, 2011, alleges that she is now battling stage-4 cancer due to the use of a power morcellator.
During her surgery, the doctor used a Rotocut GI power morcellator to cut and remove the uterus. On July 14th, 2014, she was admitted into the hospital for spinal surgery, but at that time it was discovered that she had developed stage-4 breast and bone cancer.
Per the lawsuit, she has “had to undergo extensive and intensive therapies for the treatment and management of her advanced-stage cancer. This treatment includes daily hormone medications, regular injections of medications by her physicians, and multiple ten-week rounds of radiation therapy.”
How the Morcellator Works
When the morcellator is used in laparoscopic surgeries, the device is inserted into the abdominal cavity via a small incision. The morcellator consists of a hollow cylinder that ends with cutting jaws. A “grasper” can also be inserted into the hollow portion of the cylinder.
Once in the abdomen, the morcellator’s cutting jaws slice through unwanted tissue so that the grasper can pull the tissue out through the cylinder. Laparoscopic surgeries are minimally invasive procedures and allow for a quicker recovery time for the patient.
However, the public and medical community were unaware of the risks associated with using the power morcellator in gynecological surgeries. The majority of hysterectomies and myomectomies are performed when the patient is suffering from enlarged uterine fibroids. While most fibroids are benign, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported that around 1 in 350 women who undergo these surgeries also has undiagnosed uterine cancer.
When the cutting jaws of the morcellator shred a uterine fibroid containing uterine cancer, there is a risk that the cancer cells will disseminate throughout the abdominal cavity and take root, resulting in the metastasis of the cancer outside of the uterus.
In the Michigan lawsuit the plaintiff is alleging that “despite the fact that evidence existed that the use of Rotocut GI power morcellator was dangerous and likely to place users at serious risk to their health, the defendants failed to disclose and warn of the health hazards and risks associated with the Rotocut GI power morcellator and in fact acted to deceive the medical community and public at large, including all potential users of Rotocut GI power morcellator by promoting it as safe and effective for its intended use.”