Newfoundland health officials are currently warning patients about the health risks of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters after Health Canada issued an alert regarding the device’s high failure rate.
Health Canada’s alert was issued last July after receiving 121 reports of adverse complications such as migrating, tilting, fracture, perforation of organs, and death if the device is left in for more than 30 days. Canada health officials are suggesting that doctors should use clinical studies as a means to collect information to determine the long-term care a patient with this device may need.
Both Western and Eastern Health of Newfoundland have identified some of the patients who would be candidates to have the device removed. However, if the filter has been in place for more than five years, removal may not be possible.
An IVC filter is a device that is placed in the vena cava, the largest vein in the body, and is meant to catch blood clots before they reach the heart or lungs. They’re mostly used in patients who cannot tolerate anticoagulation medication.
In the U.S., the FDA recommends that temporary IVC filters be removed between 29 and 54 days. The risk of injury or death increases the longer the device is left in the body.
IVC filter manufacturers such as C.R. Bard, Cook Medical, Rex Medical L.P and Argon Medical have been the target of hundreds of lawsuits for the complications patients allege they have experienced as a result of the device. When the filter fractures, the metal legs of the device may travel throughout the patient’s body, impaling vital organs, including the heart.
The Recovery filter, which has now been recalled, has been linked to at least 27 deaths and hundreds of non-fatal injuries.