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IVC Filter Recipient Walking Time Bomb?

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West Palm Beach, FLCarolina has suffered a double pulmonary embolism and a heart attack since having an IVC Filter implanted in 2000. She wants it removed but doctors say that would be too dangerous…

“My main worry is that this IVC filter will break apart—seems like every day you hear about it on the news,” says Carolina. “But my vascular doctor said it cannot be taken out. I don’t think anything that stays in your body for this amount of time is good for you, and I’ve had this IVC filter for almost 17 years.”

Carolina had the filter implanted in her early 30s due to trauma after suffering a broken pelvis in an accident. She wasn’t told anything about the device, whether it was temporary or permanent. “I was on so many drugs and didn’t think to question the doctors,” she says, “but knowing the risk now, I don’t blame my doctors. They weren’t aware of the importance of removing the IVC filters back in 2000. I can’t blame them for a defective product, but the manufacturer knew.”

Due to lack of warning and instructions by the manufacturers many doctors didn’t know that the IVC filters are a temporary measure. As well, design problems with some of the devices could increase the risk of failure, including fractures of the IVC filter, perforation of the vena cava and other injuries. Further, IVC filters have been found to be not as effective as blood thinners at preventing pulmonary embolism. Carolina can attest to that.

In early 2015 JAMA published a study indicating that that the long-term risks of IVC filters may negate any health benefits they provide in catching blood clots. The researchers said that patients could be twice as likely to suffer a pulmonary embolism when implanted with an IVC filter than their peers who were on blood thinners alone.

Carolina has been through a lot of trauma for her age. She says the doctors have no idea where the blood clot started, but they do know it was big and the IVC filter didn’t work. When she was brought in to ER they could see the filter and the blood in both of Carolina’s lungs but all they could do was to put her on blood thinners. “When I found out—after the pulmonary embolism—that the filter didn’t work and it couldn’t be removed I was really angry with the manufacturer,” says Carolina. “My family was even angrier because they could have lost me that day. And my parents didn’t take it too well, it was a huge shock to everyone.”


The FDA reported in 2010 that it had received over 900 adverse event reports involving the filters. And the agency indicated that doctors should consider removing the filters, which were often being left in place even though they are designed to be retrievable. Four years later, the agency anted the warning – the filters should be removed “within about one to two months after the risk of a pulmonary embolism has passed”. Researchers in another study published in JAMA found that less than 10 percent of the filters were successfully removed from patients and 8 percent of recipients of IVC filters suffered a pulmonary embolism despite the device’s presence.

No wonder Carolina is worried about the risk of the IVC filter breaking. And she will be on blood thinners for the rest of her life.

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