Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have found that high failure rates of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are likely a result of low retrieval rates.
IVC filters are small cage-like devices that are implanted in the vena cava, the body’s largest vein, which runs along the spine. They are designed to catch blood clots before they reach the heart or lungs. But many IVC filter models such as C.R. Bard’s Recovery, G2 and G2 Express, as well as Cook Medical’s Gunther Tulip and Celect models have been linked to life-threatening complications including migration, fraction and perforation, leading to embolism, organ damage and death.
Manufacturers of these devices are facing a growing number of lawsuits over injuries caused by the implants.
The Boston Medical Center is now working to track the timely retrieval of the IVC filters. In a study at BMC, IVC filter usage between August 2003 and February 2011 was examined. There were 679 potentially retrievable filters inserted into patients, but only 8.5 percent were successfully removed. Another 18 percent of patients endured unsuccessful retrieval attempts.
These filters are designed to be inserted only temporarily, and then removed between 29 and 54 days after implantation. But in countless cases, the retrievable filter is left in place much longer, even permanently, putting the patient at high risk of fracture, migration and perforation.
Now, at BMC, every IVC filter, both permanent and retrievable, is entered into a registry and tracked until it is retrieved. For the retrievable IVC filters, a designated administrator schedules a retrieval for the filter.
Stanley Hochberg, MD, senior Vice President for Quality, Safety and Technology and Chief Quality Office at BMC, stated, “BMC is leading the way to improve safety for our patients. Our leadership in this area will prove invaluable for all patients and may become the model for other institutions to follow.”