The power morcellator, a surgical device used to mince large masses of tissue inside the body so the material can be extracted through small incisions, has been the center of debate since the Food and Drug Administration discouraged its use in April.
A study by doctors at Columbia University, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that nearly 1 in 370 women who undergo a hysterectomy and use a morcellator have been found to have previously undetected uterine cancers. The study involved 232,882 cases in which women at 500 hospitals underwent minimally invasive hysterectomies using various approaches, including 36,470 women who had power morcellation.
Doctors who support the continued use of morcellators have argued that the risk of hidden cancer is low for younger women and that morcellation remains a safe option. But Jason D. Wright, lead author of the study and chief of the gynecologic oncology division at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and his colleagues found that 32 percent of the morcellation patients found to have undetected uterine cancer were younger than 50.
The study urged doctors to fully communicate the risk to their patients before surgery.