In light of mounting concerns and growing debate over laparoscopic power morcellators, a major health insurance company has announced that it will no longer cover the procedure. Highmark, Inc. announced that, effective September 1, 2014, it will cease coverage for laparoscopic morcellation surgery. At the same time, the University of Pittsburg Medical Cernter, a major hospital network in western Pennsylvania, announced that it is suspending use of power morcellation surgery.
Highmark, Inc. also owns the West Penn Allegheny Health System. Highmark’s decision means that power morcellation surgery will not be performed in much of Pennsylvania after September 1. Highmark also provides insurance coverage in the states of Delaware and West Virginia. The company states that it is hopeful that other health insurers and hospital systems will follow Highmark’s lead.
Laparoscopic power morcellators are medical devices that have become popular in the last decade for use in laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies and myomectomies. With morcellators, doctors are able to cut fibroids or the uterus into small pieces that can be removed through a small abdominal incision. Supporters of the devices point out that the minimally invasive surgery shortens recovery time, reduces bleeding and risk of infection and causes minimal scarring.
Concerns over use of power morcellators have developed recently. If the patient has an unsuspected uterine cancer, power morcellation can spread the cancer throughout the woman’s body. In light of this danger, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned doctors to avoid using the devices. An FDA advisory committee was recently convened to review available information. That committee was not able to agree on whether morcellation devices should be banned or whether stronger warnings should be provided. The committee did agree that there was no way to make fibroid removal safe using morcellation devices.
According to the FDA, 1 out of every 350 women who have laparoscopic surgery for fibroids have undiagnosed uterine cancer.
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with uterine cancer following surgery using a morcellation device, contact the Ohio Morcellator Injury Attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List.