Recently, Health Canada issued a warning over inferior vena cava (IVC) blood clot filters that are inserted into the inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the body. The IVC filters are designed to catch blood clots, but have been known to migrate, tilt, perforate the vein and other organs, and fracture, causing metal wires to work their way through the bodies of patients.
John Boehmer, a Gatineau, Quebec, resident, had a temporary IVC filter inserted following a surgical procedure. Eight months later, surgeons attempted to remove the filter, but failed after they discovered it was lodged in the wall of his vein. One of the legs of the filter nearly punctured his pancreas. Doctors have declared the filter unretrievable, causing Boehmer to live in a state of constant anxiety, wondering how the device that is stuck in his vein will affect his health.
“The source of all this, as far as I’m concerned, is the manufacturer,” Boehmer said.
“The device was supposed to be retrievable. It wasn’t. What’s your backup plan?”
In the U.S., the FDA recommends temporary IVC filters be removed between 29 and 54 days after insertion. Medical device companies such as C.R. Bard, Cordis (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), Rex Medical and Cook Medical have been the targets of hundreds of lawsuits regarding alleged IVC filter injuries. The Recovery filter by C.R. Bard has been linked to claims of at least 27 deaths and hundreds of non-fatal injuries.
Despite the potential dangers of the device, it is still widely used in patients to prevent pulmonary embolisms when anticoagulation medication can’t be tolerated.