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Doctors at a Chicago hospital indicate that they have developed a technique to retrieve hard-to-remove inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, which are prone to fracture and migrate out of position, making such retrievals difficult.
The technique was reported in last month’s issue of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology by doctors from Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital, who say they have achieved a 100% success rate at removing IVC filters where other doctors have failed.
IVC filters are small, spider-shaped devices that are typically implanted for individuals at risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism. They are placed in the inferior vena cava to “catch” blood clots that may break free elsewhere in the body. However, a large number of IVC filter complications have been reported in recent years, particularly with the use of retrievable devices manufactured by C.R. Bard, Cook Medical and other manufactures, which were designed to be easily removed once the risk of a blood clot has passed.
Thousands of IVC filter lawsuits have been filed in recent years by individuals who experienced problems where the device failed to moved out of position, often puncturing the vein or fracturing, sending small pieces into the blood stream.
According to Rush University doctors, a technique has been developed to catch the filter so that it is held in position, and then covered to prevent parts from breaking free, so that it can be safely removed. They report that over the last five years, they have had a 100% success rate at removing IVC filters and have performed removals on patients transferred from other hospitals after previous procedures failed.
“We have both the standard retrieval methods as well as the most advanced tools to remove any type of filter, and we have the medical expertise to treat any complications from the filter being implanted,’ Dr. Osman Ahmed, lead author of the study wrote in a press release.
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 1,000 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 1,000 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 several thousand cases will be brought on behalf of individuals nationwide.
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.