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FDA Warns Against Power Morcellation


Most women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives.  Fibroids are common, and affect half or more women during their reproductive years.  Most women with fibroids are unaware they have them, but other women can experience symptoms such as anemia, backaches, bleeding between periods, constipation, frequent urination, pelvic pressure and prolonged heavy periods.  They can sometimes cause infertility or miscarriage.

Micrograph of a uterine fibroid. Notice how the cells are arranged in a whorling pattern.

Micrograph of a uterine fibroid. Notice how the cells are arranged in a whorling pattern.

Laparoscopic power morcellation is one of several available treatments for fibroids. It is a procedure that uses a medical device to divide the uterine tissue into smaller pieces or fragments so it can be removed through a small incision in the abdomen.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration discouraged the use of laparoscopic power morcellation for the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) or uterine fibroids (myomectomy) in women because, based on an analysis of currently available data, it poses a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue.

Fibroids are typically detected through a pelvic exam, such as a sonogram or M.R.I.

A number of additional treatment options are available for women with symptomatic uterine fibroids, including traditional surgical hysterectomy and myomectomy, and laparoscopic hysterectomy and myomectomy without morcellation, as well as other non-surgical options.

Noninvasive ultrasound surgery can be used to heat and destroy a fibroid without damaging the uterus. A fibroid also can be destroyed by injecting small particles into uterine arteries to cut off its blood supply.

If you are considering treatment for fibroids, your doctor should answer several important questions, like:

  • What is the nature of the problem?
  • How necessary is it to treat it?
  • What procedures are known to be effective?
  • What are the risks and benefits of each procedure?
  • What is the approach you recommend?
  • How much experience do you have with the approach you recommend?
  • What are its possible complications?
  • How often do the complications occur?

In fact, any time your doctor recommends any kind of treatment, especially invasive surgery, these are good questions to ask. The decisions that you make with your doctor’s answers may save your life.

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