Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are inserted into the body’s main vein in an attempt to prevent blood clots, or thromboses, from reaching the heart and lungs. According to recent study published in JACC Cardiovascular Interventions, IVC blood clots are most often caused by an unretrieved IVC filter unless there is a congenital abnormality. “Due to the substantial increase in the number of IVC filters placed in the United States and the very low filter retrieval rates, clinicians are faced with a very large population of patients at risk for developing IVC thrombosis. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of data and societal guidelines with regards to the diagnosis and management of IVC thrombosis.” the authors state in the abstract.
According to the Mayo Clinic, IVC filters are usually only for patients who cannot take blood thinners or in cases where anticoagulants are ineffective. Complications associated with IVC filters include filter migration, filter occlusion (blockage), filter misplacement, and filter fracture with fragment embolization.
IVC filters raised safety concerns when C.R. Bard’s Recovery filter (version G2) was linked to over two dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries. According to report by NBC News, Bard was aware of problems soon after the device hit the market. NBC cites records showing that Bard expressed concern about reports of G2 filter failures only 4 months after receiving FDA approval. A recall was not issued and the filters remained on the market until 2010.