The FBI is currently investigating the power morcellator, a controversial surgical tool that has been alleged to spread dangerous uterine cancers in women during gynecological procedures.
According to a May 27 report in the Wall Street Journal, three individuals have admitted that the FBI questioned them within the past few months about the surgical devices, which are used to grind up uterine tissue for removal through small incisions during hysterectomies and myomectomies.
Johnson & Johnson Apparent Focus of FBI Probe
Johnson & Johnson was the largest manufacturer of the power morcellator until last year when it pulled the device off the market after the Food and Drug Administration warned that women undergoing fibroid surgery or hysterectomy have a one in 350 chance of having uterine sarcoma, a cancer that cannot be consistently detected during pre-op screening. The FBI is reported to be focusing the investigation on J&J’s knowledge of the device’s risks, although a J&J spokesperson said the FBI has not yet contacted the company.
The people that FBI agents have allegedly interviewed include:
- A retired pathologist who in 2006 notified J&J of potential issues concerning morcellators in 2006;
- A Pennsylvania doctor who is pushing a morcellator ban after her own cancer was spread by morcellation in 2013; and
- A California woman who has compiled a list of nearly 400 patients and their families allegedly injured by the surgical tool.
Morcellators Once Used Extensively in Surgical Procedures
Morcellators were previously used in thousands of minimally invasive procedures each year, mainly in hysterectomies, and work by grinding up uterine tissue or fibroids for easy removal through a small abdominal incision. However, if uterine sarcoma is present, morcellation may spread the malignancy and cause it to upstage rapidly, making it more difficult to treat and severely jeopardizing the patient’s chances for survival.
Power morcellator lawyers are currently filing cases on behalf of women that believe the power morcellator spread or upstaged their cancer.