In order to prevent dangerous blood clots from moving into the lungs and causing pulmonary embolism, surgeons implant patients with IVC (inferior vena cava) filters. IVC filters are retrievable, wire devices designed to catch blood clots in the blood stream before they migrate to the lungs, allowing for dissipation of the clots over time. These filters are also noted for helping prevent strokes and other life-threatening events in patients.
Since 2005, the FDA has received hundreds of reports about adverse effects from implanted IVC filters, including filter migration, filter fracture, and punctured blood vessels and organs. Taking note of the reported risks of migration, fracture, and perforation, the FDA issued a warning about IVC filters in 2010, suggesting that the devices should be retrieved from patients as soon as the risk for blood clots decreased.
The risks posed by an IVC filter escalate the longer the device remains in the body, since the likelihood of device fracture increases with time. Metal extremities of the IVC filter can break and ultimately find their way to the heart or lungs of the patient. Problems that may be associated with the use of an IVC filter are: