IVC Filter Retrieval Failures More Likely Longer Device Has Been In Place: Study

As a growing number of IVC filter lawsuits continue to be filed by individuals who experienced severe and debilitating problems after the blood clot prevention device punctured the vein, fractured or otherwise failed, new research suggests that the risk of complications during retrieval increases the longer the filter is left in place.

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are small, spider like devices that are implanted among individuals at risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism. While they are designed to catch blood clots that break free elsewhere in the body and prevent them from reaching the lungs, thousands of individuals have experienced IVC filter complications, commonly involving devices that were designed to be retrievable after the blood clot risk had passed.

In a study published in the medical journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions on June 12, researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that it becomes harder to retrieve IVC filters the longer they are left inside of patients, resulting in a higher risk of health problems and the need for more advanced retrieval techniques.

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Researchers looked at data from 762 IVC filter retrieval procedures from 2009 to 2015, which were conducted at Northwestern. A number of different IVC filters were retrieved, with the Cook Celect IVC filters being the most common.

According to the findings, IVC filters were successfully retrieved in 82% of patients, with 18% of retrieval procedures failing. However, the researchers found that the longer the IVC filter had been in place, the harder they were to recover, with the failure rate reaching nearly 41% if the filter was left in the patient for seven months or more.

IVC filter retrieval failures increased the risk of a number of injuries, including groin hematoma, injury to the inferior vena cava, and risks that the filters could fracture, making them irretrievable. Overall, adverse events occurred in 2% of all retrieval cases.

Researchers suggested that the devices should be removed as soon as possible, and that patients who experience difficulty having IVC filters removed may have better outcomes if they are sent to a facility with advanced retrieval procedures.

Other data suggests that the actual IVC filter retrieval rate nationwide could be as low as 8.5%, once facilities without advanced retrieval procedures were factored in, with many patients told not to worry about it after retrieval failed, and some being completely unaware that they have the filters still in their bodies.

“The necessity of advanced techniques to maintain technical success of retrieval increases with dwell time,” the researchers concluded. “Patients with retrievable inferior vena cava filters in place beyond 7 months may benefit from referral to centers with expertise in advanced filter retrieval.”

IVC Filter Concerns

Thousands of product liability lawsuits have been filed against C.R. Bard, Cook Medical, Cordis and other manufacturers over IVC filter retrieval failures, each raising similar allegations that consumers and the medical community were provided inadequate warnings about the risk of complications and the importance of removing the device. In many cases, the IVC filter moves out of position, punctures the vena cava, or fractures, sending small pieces into the blood stream that could cause fatal complications if they enter the heart or lungs.

In May 2014, the FDA urged doctors to remove IVC filters within about one to two months after an individual was no longer at risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism, since the risk of problems appeared to be greater the longer the filter was left in place. However, many manufacturers sold the devices for years without adequately informing physicians about the risks associated with leaving them in place.

There are currently more than 1,800 Bard IVC filter lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, which are currently centralized before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. Another 1,900 Cook IVC filter lawsuits are centralized as part of a separate MDL, raising similar allegations of problems associated with filters manufactured by Cook Medical.

As IVC filter injury lawyers continue to review and file additional claims over the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that the size of the litigation will continue to grow.

In each MDL, a small group of “bellwether” cases are being prepared for early trial dates, which are designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. While the outcomes of these early trials will not be binding on other plaintiffs, they may influence eventual IVC filter settlements the manufacturers may reach to avoid facing hundreds of individual trials nationwide.


  • MargaretAugust 11, 2017 at 2:57 am

    I encourage you to contact Dr William Kuo at Stanford University Medical center. He is the most qualified and experienced physician in taking out IVC filters. It is incorrect to say these filters cannot be removed. I had a permanant Greenfield filter removed by Dr Kuo in November of 2016. I can't say enough good things about him!!

  • DianaAugust 2, 2017 at 12:49 am

    I had a Trapease placed in April 1st 2004. I wasn't advised of any harmful effects whatsoever and I had successfully taken Warfarin before it was placed in my body. I have hard chest pains that are where the filter is placed. I have told my Physicians that my right groin hurts and they do X-rays cat scans only to say it's the scar tissue where the IVC filter was placed through that's causing the[Show More]I had a Trapease placed in April 1st 2004. I wasn't advised of any harmful effects whatsoever and I had successfully taken Warfarin before it was placed in my body. I have hard chest pains that are where the filter is placed. I have told my Physicians that my right groin hurts and they do X-rays cat scans only to say it's the scar tissue where the IVC filter was placed through that's causing the pain. My heart is great so my chest pains concern me. Now I have been pursuing getting this foreign object out of my body for a while. My last Dr was getting prepared to send me for surgery. Then my new Pcp just informed me that the IVC filter has calcified itself into my body She placed me on 8 mg of Coumadin to prepare for the removal. Now I am believing she's saying it can't be removed because of the calcified state. I plan to confirm my belief this Thursday at my next appointment. Since I didn't know these things weren't meant for long term use until I started getting weird hard chest pains only to be told the filter hadn't moved per more X-rays and cat scans and the test I didn't want to keep being exposed to radiation but now I must report more chest pains since last week. I also now have a filter that's supposed to help but how can it stop any clots if it's covered with scar tissue? Plus now I have to take Coumadin for the rest of my life per my Dr. Im 60 years young and don't want to take Coumadin for the rest of my life nor do I want a nonworking foreign object in my body. I am very scared to attempt the removal procedure even under normal circumstances. Now it's calcified in my body so that scares me even more. My knees have Bakers Cysts that I never heard of until I got them. Somehow related to IVC Dr said. I get pain and swelling in my legs knees that never existed before so I believe all these new symptoms and pain are from the IVC filter calcification. Going to request a cat scan this Thursday to have Dr show me everything and discuss removal because im thinking she's saying can't be done now due to surgery would have more risks being calcified. Uhhhg I don't know what to do because people can die and im not a spring chicken so to speak plus the position of the IVC filter. They wont be able to just easily pull a calcified IVC filter through the incision seems like they'd have to clean away the calcified area first so yes I am scared and it's not my fault so I appreciate any Dr referrals who maybe could comfort me while I am weighing the risks as there are high risks in my situation at this point I felt like I had clots in my legs a couple of times in the past year and depended on the filter to catch them but that was before I knew about it being calcified. I don't know what to do or to suggest to others except if they put one in you insist it come out before you are in the same mess I am now in. God Bless all.

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