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Complications with IVC Filters are Evaluated

Jun 13, 2016

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are cage-like devices built to catch and dissolve blood clots. They are inserted in patients who have an increased risk of blood clots, but for whom blood thinners may not be an option. An IVC filter works by trapping blood clots before they can travel to vital organs such as the lungs or heart and cause life-threatening injuries.

Recently, there have been concerns over potential complications linked to IVC filters. Two new studies have been published about IVC filters in the journal Seminars in Interventional Radiology.

One study had to do with complications based on the type of filter. The study was to determine which patients might benefit from filter retrieval or follow-up. Researchers used several databases to identify IVC filter types and device-specific complications from 1980 to 2014. The researchers identified 23 IVC filter types, 14 were retrievable and 9 were permanent.

The study revealed that filters categorized as purely conical had the highest risk of penetration (90-100%). The highest risk of IVC thrombosis was with cylindrical or umbrella elements (30-50%) and Conical Bard filters were associated with the highest reported risks of fracture (40%). "This information can be used to guide and optimize clinical management in patients with indwelling IVC filters," stated the authors.

Another report published in the journal noted a rising number of cases in recent years regarding IVC filters. In recent years, lawsuits have been filed relating to Cook’s filters and Bard’s filters. These lawsuits allege that filter design and manufacturing practices made them especially prone to complications, reports the Seminars in Interventional Radiology.

"The resolution of these cases will add to a larger legal debate concerning how much legal protection the 1976 Medical Device Amendments should offer firms from tort liability. As a specialty that often relies on medical devices, it is not only important for interventional radiologists to have a general understanding of medical device litigation but also to reflect upon the approaches to informed consent regarding these devises," the authors state.

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