Clinical Review

Morcellation use in gynecologic surgery: Current clinical recommendations and cautions

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Currently, one containment bag has been FDA approved for use in laparoscopic contained power morcellation.19 Use of a containment bag increases operative time by approximately 20 minutes, due to the additional steps required to accomplish the procedure.20 Its use, however, suggests a decrease in the risk of possible disease spread and it is feasible with appropriate surgeon training.

One study demonstrated the safety and feasibility of power morcellation within an insufflated containment bag, and subsequent follow-up revealed negative intraperitoneal washings.21,22 In another study evaluating tissue dissemination with contained morcellation of tissue stained with dye, the authors noted actual spillage of tissue fragments in only one case.23 Although more information is needed to confirm prevention of tissue dissemination and the safety of contained tissue morcellation, these studies provide promising data supporting the use of tissue morcellation in appropriate cases in order to perform minimally invasive surgery with larger specimens.

CASE Next steps and treatment outcome

The patient has up-to-date and negative cervical cancer screening. The complete blood count is notable for a hemoglobin level of 11.0 g/dL (normal range, 12.1 to 15.1 g/dL). You perform an endometrial biopsy; results are negative for malignancy. You order pelvic ultrasonography to better characterize the location and size of the fibroids. It shows multiple leiomyomas throughout the myometrium, with the 2 largest fibroids (measuring 5 and 7 cm) located in the left anterior and right posterolateral aspects of the uterus, respectively. Several 3- to 4-cm fibroids appear to be disrupting the endometrial canal, and there is no evidence of an endometrial polyp. There do not appear to be any cervical or lower uterine segment fibroids, which may have further complicated the proposed surgery.

You discuss treatment options for abnormal uterine bleeding with the patient, including initiation of combined oral contraceptive pills, placement of a levonorgestrel-containing intrauterine device, endometrial ablation, uterine artery embolization, and hysterectomy. You discuss the risks and benefits of each approach, keeping in mind the fibroids that are disrupting the contour of the endometrial canal and causing her bulk symptoms.

The patient ultimately decides to undergo a hysterectomy and would like it to be performed with a minimally invasive procedure, if possible. Because of the size of her uterus, you discuss the use of contained power morcellation, including the risks and benefits. You have a thorough discussion about the risk of occult malignancy, although she is at lower risk because of her age, and she consents.

The patient undergoes an uncomplicated total laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingectomy. The specimen is removed using contained power morcellation through the umbilical port site. She has an unremarkable immediate postoperative course and is discharged on postoperative Day 1.

You see the patient in the clinic 2 weeks later. She reports minimal pain or discomfort and has no other complaints. Her abdominal incisions are healing well. You review the final pathology report with her, which showed no evidence of malignancy.

Society guidance on clinical applications

In current clinical practice, many surgeons have converted to exclusively performing contained morcellation in appropriate patients with a low risk of uterine leiomyosarcoma. At our institution, uncontained morcellation has not been performed since the FDA’s 2014 warning.

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