CHESTERFIELD, Va (WRIC) - The FDA is warning doctors against using a procedure done on tens of thousands of American women every year. The notice released Thursday says the use of a power morcellator during surgery in the uterus could lead to the spread of cancer.
It's a tool doctors commonly use to get rid of uterine growths, called fibroids, or to take out the whole uterus.
Dr. Warren Broocker has been working as a gynecologist at Virginia Physicians for Women for more than four decades and has performed hundreds of operations using power morcellation in the past several years.
The non-invasive surgery uses the tool in women's abdomen to remove fibroids from the uterus.
“What the morcellator does is fit through a laparascopic port," Broocker says. "When you're doing laparascopic surgeries you're using much smaller incisions than when you're doing classical surgery. If you have something larger than the port to get out, the only way to get it out is to make it smaller.”
The morcellator cuts tissue into pieces that can be removed through tiny incisions.
"The benefit to that is obviously you don't have to have a big incision so the recovery is a lot faster."
But the FDA is advising against using the tool, citing the risk for spreading hidden cancer.
“The theory is if you chop these things up in the abdomen and their malignant now you've spread the tissue in the abdomen, you've changed the stage of the cancer."
But Dr. Broocker says the odds of that happening are very low.
"I may have seen maybe two or three tumors of the fibroid in my entire time of practice."
He says he doesn't plan on stopping the procedures, but he will follow the FDA’s recommendation to alert women about the risks.
"Invariably I'll tell patients there is some risk there, but I think the risk is very low."