PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Amy Reed, 40, is an anesthesiologist in Boston and the mother of six children ages, one to 12.
She had a minimally invasive hysterectomy involving morcellation for presumably benign fibroids, and she had an uncommon type of tumor called a leiomyosarcoma. Now she has stage four cancer.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration discouraged the use of the morcellation instrument.
Along with her husband, Amy is now working to stop morcellation until there’s a better understanding of its potential flaws.
“The government said it’s not a good idea, the manufacturer now come out and said it’s not a good idea,” says Amy.
A morcellator is designed to go through a small incision during a hysterectomy. It essentially chops up the uterus so it can be removed through the same small incision.
For the majority of women, this approach is safe and leads to an easier recovery, but in a few unfortunate instances, the process of morcellation has scattered malignant cells within the abdomen.
Representatives from Johnson and Johnson met with St. Clair Hospital on Tuesday.
The hospital decided to stop using the device right then, but only for hysterectomies. Surgeons will still use it to remove spleens.
For women scheduled to have a hysterectomy, doctors say they’ll still get their surgery done.
“But they won’t be able to do it with the morcellator,” says St. Clair Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alan Yeasted who practices internal medicine.
Would they have to go with an open procedure then?
“At this point, I think they would,” he says.
Not all local hospitals are following suit.
“The University of Pittsburgh has come out and said it would not stop morcellation,” says Reed.
In a statement, UPMC would only say they are currently reviewing their policy on morcellation.
The Allegheny Health Network doesn’t seem to be totally abandoning the procedure either.
It says it is planning a comprehensive review of power morcellation for fibroid removal in light of recent concerns about its risks in some patients, and carefully weighing the benefits and risks of the procedure on an individual patient basis.