Researchers at Rush University Medical Center recently published a paper highlighting a novel technique for retrieving inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, such as those currently named in thousands of lawsuits. According to a report published at HospiMedica.com, the method has allowed the authors to achieve a 100% retrieval rate over the past five years, including difficult-to-remove filters from patients who have been referred to Rush from other hospitals.
Retrievable IVC filters are implanted into the inferior vena cava in patients at risk for pulmonary embolism. Once in place, the devices are able to intercept blood clots before they can travel to the heart or lungs. While they are intended to be removed once a patient is out of danger, a 2013 JAMA: Internal Medicine study suggested this occurs successfully in fewer than 10% of patients.
Failure to remove an IVC filter can result in migration, embolization after detachment of device components, perforation of the inferior vena cava, and filter fracture. In 2010, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) disclosed that it had received more than 900 adverse event reports related to retrievable IVC filters. Four years later, the agency issued a second advisory that urged doctors to remove temporary blood clot filters within 29 to 54 days of their implantation in order to reduce the risk of patient harm.
The study describing the new retrieval technique was published in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. According to HospiMedica.com, the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis using conscious sedation in the interventional radiology suite. The method can also be performed under general anesthesia in cases involving more advanced IVC filter retrieval.
Court documents indicate that at least 2,288 IVC filter lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts on behalf individuals who allegedly suffered severe and life-threatening complications related to retrievable devices manufactured by C.R. Bard, Inc. and Cook Medical, Inc. Plaintiffs involved in these cases claim that the companies’ retrievable filters are prone to fracture, migration and other problems that can result in life-threatening complications, and accuse the device makers of failing to warn patients and doctors about these risks.