IVC filters are small, cage-like devices that are inserted into the inferior vena cava (the main vessel returning blood from the lower half of the body to the heart) to capture blood clots and prevent them from reaching the lungs. IVC filters are frequently placed in patients at risk for pulmonary embolism, or PE, when anticoagulant therapy cannot be used or is ineffective. Some patients may require long-term protection from PE, and implantation of permanent IVC filters is often performed in these cases. Others only require short-term protection, in which case retrievable IVC filters are typically used, as these devices have the option to be removed once the patient’s risk of PE subsides.
NATIONAL – According to the Associated Press (8/10, Tanner) reports, “Medical filters that stop blood clots from reaching the lungs can move or break and cause life-threatening problems for patients, the government and a medical journal report said Monday.”
The AP adds, “In an advisory to doctors and patients, the Food and Drug Administration said it has received more than 900 reports about problems with these filters since 2005.” Notably, the “problems can arise when filters are left inside veins too long.”
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