Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are more popular than ever, despite their serious side effect risks. Migration, perforation, embolizations and fracturing are just a few issues reported to the FDA. Yet despite these serious complications, surgeons implanted over 259,000 IVC filters in 2013 alone. Low IVC filter retrieval rates may be to blame.
The Problem With IVC Filter Retrieval
Despite IVC filter migration risks and other complications, they’re increasingly popular. This is partly due to retrievable IVC filters giving doctors and patients additional options. Surgeons can remove retrievable filters after stroke and blood clot risks subside.
“The FDA is concerned that these retrievable IVC filters, intended for short-term placement, are not always removed once a patient’s risk for pulmonary embolism (PE) subsides,” says the FDA’s August 2010 report. Long-term risks associated with patients who avoid timely IVC filter retrieval include:
- Lower-limb deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Device fracture
- Filter migration, embolization and IVC perforation injuries (i.e., internal puncture wounds)
Unfortunately, retrievable filters often stay implanted permanently. According to a meta-analysis of 37 studies comprising 6,834 patients, surgeons retrieve only a third of them.
“Most of the filters became permanent devices,” the study notes, despite their temporary, retrievable design. Most complications (including migration) occur with long-term use (>30 days).
IVC Filter Retrieval Rates are Getting Worse, Not Better
“We report a case of inferior vena cava filter migration to the right ventricle,” reads a case presentation published in the Journal of Invasive Cardiology. “The patient was taken to the cardiac catheterization laboratory and under fluoroscopy the filter was found to be in the right ventricle.”
IVC (inferior vena cava) filter migration is the most common complication. Despite more medical devices on the market, doctors don’t believe they’re better than anticoagulants.
Researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine and the Department of Cardiology at William Beaumont Hospital reviewed 27 IVC filter migration cases. One case asserts “that newer retrievable filters… have a significantly higher percentage of filter migration into the right ventricle as compared to the old stainless steel and titanium-based Greenfield filters.” Another case found “higher percentages of complications and mortality associated with the newer retrievable filters.”
Although newer filters should be superior, they’re more likely to fracture, migrate, or perforate than older devices. Surgeons should promptly remove devices once the risk of pulmonary embolism subsides to avoid unnecessary complications.
What Patients Can Do
An IVC filter should be your last resort to protect against blood clots. If your doctor insists on an IVC filter, remove it as soon as your PE risk subsides. In fact, 29-54 days after implantation is ideal.
If you suffered IVC filter side effects, you may be eligible for compensation. IVC filter lawsuits are currently underway against device manufacturers for making faulty, low-quality devices. Injured patients are also suing for negligence regarding device complication risks. Get a free IVC filter case evaluation to see if you may be eligible.
Megan Kelly is a former blogger and copywriter for LeadingResponse.