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Morcellator Use in Hysterectomies Falls After FDA Warnings

August 23, 2016 — Warnings issued by the FDA dramatically decreased the use of power morcellators in hysterectomies, according to a research letter published in JAMA.

Only 2.8% of minimally-invasive hysterectomies used power morcellators in early 2015, compared with 13.5% in early 2013.

Overall, there was a slight increase in the rate of abdominal hysterectomies (27.1% to 31.8%) and a decrease in minimally-invasive hysterectomies (59.7% to 56.2%).

The switch did not result in an increase in complications, as some critics had feared. In fact, the rate of complications from abdominal hysterectomies actually decreased.

The data proves that doctors were able to perform hysterectomies without using power morcellators or compromising patient safety. The study involved 200,000 women in the United States who had all types of hysterectomies at over 500 hospitals.

Dr. Jason D. Wright, the lead author and director of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University, told the Wall Street Journal:

“The big takeaway is that despite all the scrutiny, women undergoing morcellation are still at risk for cancer. They need to be counseled about that risk and we need to think carefully about who undergoes surgery with power morcellation.”

In April 2014, the FDA issued a Safety Communication to warn that morcellators could disseminate and upstage undiagnosed cancer. The agency said 1 in 350 women who undergo a hysterectomy has undiagnosed cancer. In November 2014, the FDA said power morcellators shouldn’t be used in the “vast majority” of women.

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