November 5, 2014 — Doctors are warning that women who undergo a hysterectomy or fibroid surgery with the Da Vinci Surgical Robot are usually treated with a surgical tool that can potentially spread undiagnosed cancer.
In the last few years, the popularity of using the Da Vinci Surgical Robot to perform hysterectomies and fibroid surgeries has skyrocketed from 0.5% in 2007 to 9.5% in 2010.
In most of these procedures, the robot is used in conjunction with a surgical tool known as a power morcellator. Morcellators look like hand-held electrical blenders, with spinning blades that grind up tissues in a woman’s abdomen.
Morcellators save valuable time during a robotic hysterectomy, but they may significantly increase a woman’s risk of developing cancer. Earlier this month, a woman from New York died after a battle with cancer, two years after she underwent fibroid surgery with the Da Vinci robot. Click here to read more.
The problem is that there is no reliable way to know if a woman with fibroids actually has undiagnosed cancer. Morcellators tend to leave behind tiny pieces of tissue. If the tissue contains cancerous cells, it could “seed” tumors throughout a woman’s pelvis and abdomen.
Dr. Hooman Noorchasm filed a Change.org petition to ban morcellators in gynecological surgery after his wife was diagnosed with stage-4 leiomyosarcoma.
If you were not aware of the cancer risks associated with a Da Vinci hysterectomy, you are not alone. Dr. Noorchasm says the robots lack warnings against morcellating tumors:
“Without morcellation using equipment manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, robotic hysterectomies would, likely, not be possible using the DaVinci Robot. It is noteworthy that the DaVinci robot does not appear to have a readily available warning label advising against its use to morcellate tumors with malignant potential inside the body.”