Inferior vena cava thrombosis isn’t as common as deep vein thrombosis, but is equally as dangerous. It can cause a variety of symptoms, which may make it difficult to diagnose initially, but can often be detected with a CT scan. Treatment usually consists of surgical management, anticoagulation medication, and/or thrombolytic therapy.
IVC blood clots can be caused by many things, such as tumors, inflammatory processes, or vessel injury due to trauma (from a car accident, for example). But the main cause of IVC thrombosis is surprising: unretrieved IVC filters.
Dr. Mohamad Alkhouli from University of Rochester Medical Center, New York, told Reuters Health that IVC filters desperately needed a tracking system to allow patient follow-up. He believes a filter should be removed as soon as possible. “Since IVC filter thrombosis is the main etiology for IVC thrombosis,” Dr. Alkhouli says, “physicians may want to ensure the absolute need for the filter before its placement.”
Dr. Michael Jaff from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, agrees. “Limit placement of IVC filters to only absolute indications, and retrieve them as soon as possible,” he says in an email to Reuters Health.
In the U.S., IVC filters are used 25 times more often than in Europe, and the rate of retrieval is consistently low.
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 are designed for temporary placement, intended to be removed between 29 and 54 days after implantation. However, the retrievable filters are often left in place much longer, even permanently, which may put the patient at high risk of life-threatening complications including migration, fraction and perforation. These problems may result in pulmonary embolism, organ damage and death.
Manufacturers of these devices are facing a growing number of lawsuits over injuries and deaths allegedly linked to the damaged filters.