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Study: IVC Filters Rarely Removed if Complications Arise

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Chicago, ILStudy results recently shared at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Vascular Surgical Society revealed that the inferior vena cava and adjacent organs had been penetrated in 46% of patients who received IVC filters. The findings, presented by Dr. Michael Go, with the division of vascular diseases and surgery, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, showed that although close to half of IVC filter patients had experienced complications, only 1.6% of temporary filters had been retrieved.

The IVC (inferior vena cava) filter is a medical device designed to prevent blood clots. It is used in patients who are at risk of a pulmonary embolism when anticoagulants either cannot be used or are not effective. The retrievable IVC filters are only meant to be used short-term, until the risk of pulmonary embolism subsides.

According to Dr. Go, the study looked at 262 patients who had received IVC filters. Of the 262 patients in the study, most had received the filters for “prophylaxis or relative indications and were temporary.”

The study revealed penetration occurring in patients as follows: the filter penetrated the aorta in 12 cases; the duodenum in 26; and the spine, colon or kidney in 6; and simultaneously penetrated two organs in 7 cases. However, the IVC filter had only been retrieved in 1.6% of cases.

“It remains unclear if most penetrations caused clinically significant problems,” Dr. Go said. “Monitoring of penetrations with CT, or some other follow-up, may be important to understand the natural history of this condition.”

Regarding the relatively low retrieval rate, Dr. Go commented, “We have attempted to remove some of these filters, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. As far as our retrieval rate, I agree, 1.6% is dismal.”

Dr. Go also observed that even when retrieval is undertaken, technical failure rates are high at about 8.5%, as findings from the study “Technical and patient-related characteristics with challenging retrieval of inferior vena cava filters” (Sept. 2013) revealed.

IVC Filter lawsuits have been filed against C.R. Bard, alleging patients were harmed by the use of the IVC filter. These lawsuits were filed following a health advisory issued by the US Food and Drug Administration, warning about issues with IVC filter migration. Plaintiffs allege they suffered serious harm when parts of the IVC filter broke apart and migrated throughout their body, causing deep vein thrombosis and other health problems.

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READER COMMENTS

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I had this device fitted for a knee operation as I am on Warfarin; the device migrated past the renal valve and split my vena cava in four places - I heamorraged and then sued the doctor and radiologist who placed this device. The medical insurers bullied me by saying that if I took them to court and I lost they would sue me for everything I had. This is an Australian case. But the outcome is the same the IVC is still stuck in my vena cava, irretrievable, now had puntured the decending duodenum making me scik and unable to eat decent meals and there's not a damn thing I can do - it changed my life from being a personal trainer to not being able to exercise - frankly these things should be taken off the market. I don't think I'll ever be able to eb compensated for this - wish I could.

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