The Morcellation "debate" and the FDA 510(k) Process - A Call for Further Reform

Lacey Brennan, Magdy P. Milad*, Louise P. King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Importance Few gynecologic surgeons understand the mechanism by which surgical instruments are approved for human use and marketing or do they appreciate the central role they play in postmarket surveillance and reporting after instruments have come to market. Objective Using the experience with the uterine morcellator, this review will detail the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) system for approving surgical instruments and the potential pitfalls of this process. Evidence Acquisition Literature review and public documents from the FDA. Results The FDA 510(k) approval process for surgical instruments relies largely on postmarket surveillance as exemplified by the uterine power morcellator, which was approved before sufficient evidence was available regarding its potential harms. Conclusions The current system currently transfers the responsibility of ensuring safety and efficacy to the public, patients, and providers. To minimize potential harm, the FDA needs to incorporate a greater standard of evidence into its framework for the approval and regulation of medical devices. The burden of these requirements should be borne at least in part by the companies bringing equipment to market. Relevance It is incumbent on all surgeons to be vigilant in their objective critical assessment of new instrumentation and report their outcomes after they come to market. Target Audience Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians Learning Objectives Physicians should be better able to: Identify the challenges associated with the current 510(k) process; Distinguish between the roles of the initial approval and postmarketing surveillance of surgical products and their safety; and Evaluate the efficacy of new surgical modalities and products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-753
Number of pages5
JournalObstetrical and Gynecological Survey
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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