In a study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center from 2001-2006, patients who received a retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filter were tracked for potential plans to retrieve the filter.
IVC filters are cage-like devices that are implanted in the largest vein of the body. Their purpose is to catch blood clots, preventing them from reaching the heart or lungs, particularly in patients that cannot take anticoagulation medication.
Retrievable IVC filters are different than permanent filters. The permanent filters are strong and intended to be left in the body for years. But retrievable filters are meant to be temporary, as they are weakened versions of the permanent models. According to the FDA, retrievable IVC filters are designed to be inserted only temporarily, and then removed between 29 and 54 days after insertion.
The study showed that out of the 240 patients that received a retrievable IVC filter, only 73 had documented plans for the filter to be removed. Out of the 62 patients that actually went back in for filter removal, 26 percent of filters could not be retrieved.
The UCSF study concluded that efforts to improve rates of retrieval would likely be needed to cut down on the complications associated with retrievable IVC filters.
Retrievable IVC filters 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, fracture and perforation. These problems may result in pulmonary embolism, organ damage and death. This has resulted in hundreds of lawsuits filed against IVC device makers for injuries and deaths allegedly caused by faulty filter designs.