BOSTON — Dr. Amy Reed and husband Dr. Hooman Noorchashm are two of the most vocal opponents of the dangerous surgical device known as the power morcellator. For them, it is a personal battle, as Reed contracted cancer shortly after undergoing a power morcellation procedure. Unfortunately, and this is now the case for thousands of women, not only did Reed find out she had an aggressive form of cancer, but it has since returned.
The Fight Against the Power Morcellators
Dr. Reed is an anesthesiologist and Dr. Noorchashm is a cardiothoracic surgeon. They are individuals extremely familiar with the inherent risks any surgical procedure entails. In 2013 Dr. Reed had a hysterectomy performed as a form of treating the uterine fibroids in her body. Uterine fibroids are benign, relatively harmless growths that are common in women. A power morcellator was used during the surgery. Unfortunately, as is now well known, the device can unwittingly spread an aggressive form of metastatic uterine cancer known as leiomyosarcoma. This type of cancer is very hard to detect prior to any invasive medical procedure and it often is hidden in or near the fibroids. Because of how the power morcellator operates (shreds the tissue into small pieces so they can pulled through an incision in the abdomen), the cancerous cells have the opportunity to spread beyond the uterus. This is exactly what took place in Dr. Reed’s case.
Prior to her story making headlines, it was widely believed that this deadly form of cancer was very rare (1 in 10,000). It has since been discovered that leiomyosarcoma is in 1 out of 350 women who undergo uterine fibroid surgery. This deadly and quick-moving disease does not have a cure, especially once it spreads to other parts of the body. Even after enduring extremely aggressive forms of treatment, Dr. Reed finds herself once again fighting the malignant tumors in her body.
The power morcellator was a once common surgical device that was advertised as a minimally invasive means of removing uterine fibroids and performing hysterectomies or myomectomies. A series of circular blades slice up the tissue or fibroid and the pieces were then drawn out through a small incision. Women such as Dr. Reed were then finding themselves diagnosed with previously undetected cancer shortly after a power morcellator procedure. Studies and the FDA have since found that the device markedly increases the risk of undetected cancer spreading through the body.
Dr. Reed and her husband Dr. Noorchashm have been extremely vocal in their fight to have the device banned. While the device has not been banned outright, the FDA did attach its strongest warning and multiple hospital chains and insurers have started restricting the use of power morcellators in women.
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