New study reveals how IVC filter removal rates may be increased by doing one simple thing

Jan. 25, 2017 – San Diego, CA — A new study out of the United Kingdom suggests retrieval rates for IVC filters can improve dramatically when an appointment is scheduled to take the filter out at the time of placement.

The study was conducted by researchers at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, UK and published in the journal Interventional Radiology this month.

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Researchers looked at all patients who underwent surgery and had an IVC filter placed to prevent pulmonary embolism at the hospital between 2004 and 2014.

Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot breaks off from one of the body’s deep veins and travels to the lungs. There is a five-fold increase in the incidence of PE for surgery patients, both during and after the procedure, according to the study.

IVC filters are often used to prevent PE, as they help trap blood clots before they move to the lungs or other parts of the body. IVC filters are small, cage-like devices inserted in the inferior vena cava – the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart.

Researchers in the study found that IVC filters were retrieved successfully in the majority of patients at the hospital, but they owed the success in part to retrieval plans made at the time of placement and close follow-up after surgery.

“Dedicated tracking of patients in a registry was shown to double retrieval rates to 60% in a single center study. As such, we have more recently adopted a perspective register to track patients who undergo filter insertion and provisionally schedule patients for a retrieval date at the time of filter insertion,” wrote the study authors.

There were 254 filters placed for PE prevention in surgery patients during the 10-year study period and doctors attempted to retrieve about 66% of those filters. They were successful in removing the vast majority of them (85%).

In total, the hospital removed nearly 60% of the IVC filters used in surgery patients to prevent PE – a significantly higher percentage than has been reported in earlier studies.

“A mean retrieval rate of 34% of retrievable IVC filters has been found following systematic review of eleven prospective clinical trials. Indeed, in the earlier studies, up to 70% of retrievable filters were not removed,” wrote the study authors.

The authors noted that large blood clots in the filters, perforation of the vena cava by the filter, and the filter angle were the most common reasons for why filters were not retrieved, either at all or at first attempt. Cancer patients who underwent surgery were also less likely to have their filter removed.

Leaving a retrievable IVC filter in for too long can be dangerous. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made that clear when it issued a safety communication in 2014 highlighting the risk of leaving IVC filters inside the body for longer than is necessary.

The warning said leaving an IVC filter in for too long can increase the risk for device migration, filter fracture, movement of the entire filter or fragments to the heart or lungs, perforation of the inferior vena cava, and difficulty removing the device.

The FDA advised doctors to remove the filter as soon as the patient’s risk for PE subsided.

Based on this most recent study, it appears scheduling a retrieval procedure at the time of filter placement, as well as adequate follow-up after surgery, is a good way to increase the percentage of filter retrievals. This could lead to fewer patients experiencing the potentially dangerous side effects of leaving IVC filters in for too long.

IVC Filter Lawsuits

People harmed by IVC filters have begun filing IVC filter lawsuits against the various manufacturers of these devices, including C.R. Bard and Cook Medical. These lawsuits allege the manufacturers should have known about the risks associated with their devices but failed to warn consumers about those risks.

If you or someone you love were harmed by an IVC filter, the attorneys at Hood National Law Group are here to help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-214-1010 or simply fill out the form on the right-hand side of your screen to see if you qualify.