Complications have been found to arise when both temporary and permanent blood clot filters are left in longer than three to six months.
Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are a cage-like device implanted in the largest vein in the body. Its purpose is to catch blood clots before they reach the heart or lungs. But filters have been under scrutiny in the last year for their high rates of failure.
Reported complications include the legs of the filter fracturing and traveling through the body, heart and/or lungs. Other complications reported include abdominal pain, tilting of the filter, and the filter tearing or creating a blockage in the vein. The longer the filter has been in place, the higher the chances are of complications.
Alleged complications have resulted in lawsuits against IVC filter manufacturers such as Rex Medical and Argon Medical Devices. C.R. Bard alone has more than 900 lawsuits currently pending against it related to its filters.
In a Rush University Medical Center study, interventional radiologists have pioneered several methods that successfully remove even the most complicated IVC filters with 100 percent success rate, giving hope to those that have experienced adverse issues with the device.
Osman Ahmed, MD, primary author and interventional radiologist at Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital is confident in the new retrieval methods. “We have both the standard retrieval methods as well as the most advanced tools to remove any type of filter, and we have the medical expertise to treat any complications from the filter being implanted.”
The techniques involve carefully trapping the filter to prevent it from moving, then covering it to catch any parts that fracture. “Alligator forceps” and “excimer lasers” are tools that are used, as well.
Sreekumar Madassery, MD, an interventional radiologist at Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital agrees with the FDA’s recommendation that anyone who has an IVC filter should talk to an interventional radiologist about having the filter removed as soon as possible.
“Unfortunately, filters are not always removed once the initial threat of a blood clot traveling to the heart and lungs subsides, because there hasn’t previously been awareness of the potential risks of leaving them in,” said Madassery.