A number of organizations and agencies are involved in developing guidelines for the use of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)1 and National Guideline Clearinghouse2 have issued recommendations for the use and retrieval of IVC filters. In addition, the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) has issued guidelines for their use in the treatment of deep vein thrombosis (the formation of blood clots in the veins) and prevention of pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that travels to the lungs).3
What are IVC filters?
Inferior vena cava filters are cone-shaped, meshlike devices placed in the largest vein in the body to prevent blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs. Blood clots can be fatal, and the device is used in people who are at risk of these clots forming in the deep veins of the legs or thighs.4
Guidelines for IVC filter placement
The ACCP has stated that IVC filters should not be used in patients receiving anticoagulants.
But certain patients need the filters to avoid life-threatening embolisms reaching the heart:
- Patients with pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis who cannot receive anticoagulants
- Patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension
Though retrievable IVC filters are meant to be removed, they tend to be left in the patients.5
Guidelines for IVC filter removal
More data is available on permanent IVC filters, but it is suspected that temporary devices have higher risks. The temporary devices were first approved in 2003 and are supposed to be left in for 10 to 100 days. The longer they are left in, the less likely the device will be removed successfully.2
IVC filter warnings
In 2010, the FDA issued a warning about adverse side effects from temporary IVC filters being left in too long. The adverse effects include:7
- Migration of the device
- Device fracturing
- Filter embolization
- IVC perforation
If your IVC filter was not removed properly or had to be replaced because it failed, you can contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.