Power morcellators have been used in hysterectomies and myomectomies — the removal of uterine fibroids — for two decades. Morcellation is used to break uterine tissue into tiny fragments for removal.
In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning discouraging doctors from using laparoscopic power morcellators due to the risk of spreading undiagnosed cancer cells. Shortly after the FDA’s warning, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) suspended sales of its power morcellators. Three months later, J&J announced it would withdraw its morcellators from the market worldwide.
Awareness of morcellation cancer risks spread in December 2013 after the Wall Street Journal reported the story of Amy Reed, a Boston anesthesiologist diagnosed with Stage 4 leiomyosarcoma after a morcellation hysterectomy. Amy had undetected Stage 1 cancer that spread during the morcellation procedure.