The husbands of two women from the Rochester-area who died after a procedure worsened their undetected uterine cancers welcomed news of a federal investigation into what manufacturers knew about hazards of the device called a power morcellator.
"Any government investigation by any agency that brings more light to the matter would be a positive or a good thing," said Jim Leary of Greece, whose wife, Barbara, died in September 2013.
"I'm glad to see anybody exploring this in more depth," said Frank Interlichia of Brighton, whose wife, Linda, died in October 2014. "This way the issue isn't going to be forgotten."
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into what Johnson & Johnson, which had been the largest manufacturer of laparoscopic power morcellators, knew about its potential to spread tissue.
Power morcellation was frequently used in minimally invasive surgery for fibroids, which are presumed to be benign growths. The morcellator devices use high-speed blades to cut tissue so it can be removed through small incisions. However, the determination of cancer is made by a pathologist after surgery. With no way to know for sure that tissue is benign, power morcellators can send cancer throughout the abdominal cavity.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates surgical devices, issued a safety advisory in April, and Rochester hospitals stopped doing power morcellation. J&J recalled the devices in July. The FDA issued a sterner, "black box" warning in November. But it did not ban the device.
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