Each year, more than 250,000 inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are implanted in the U.S. alone. Because of the high rate of failure of these devices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two safety alerts regarding the removal of the devices, and guidelines on how to care for patients who have received them.
The majority of IVC filters are placed temporarily, and are designed to be used for only a short amount of time. But if they are not removed once they are no longer necessary, the filter may migrate, fracture, perforate the vein or actually cause blood clots to occur.
As many as 40-60 percent of IVC filters cannot be efficiently removed using standard methods, resulting in filters that become permanently embedded in the patients’ bodies.
Thanks to laser-assisted IVC filter removal, Dr. William T. Kuo, director of both the Stanford IVC Filter Clinic and IR Fellowship Program, and Associate Professor of Interventional Radiology at Stanford University Medical Center, states that “With rare exception, virtually any vena cava filter can now be removed percutaneously without the need for open surgery, regardless of dwell time, in a specialized center with expertise in advanced filter retrieval.” Dr. Kuo adds that “successful filter removal can prevent and alleviate filter-related complications. It may also allow some patients to be weaned from previously prescribed ‘filter-related’ lifelong anticoagulation.”
This new procedure allows thousands more patients each year to have their IVC filter successfully removed, reducing the risk of filter-related morbidity.
IVC filter manufacturers such as C.R. Bard, Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Cordis, and Cook Medical have been the target of hundreds of lawsuits regarding injuries and deaths linked to temporary IVC filters.