Inferior Vena Cava Filter (IVC)
IVC, or Inferior Vena Cava Filters, are small, metal cage-like devices that are implanted in the veins to catch blood clots before they reach the heart or lungs. They are generally used in patients with emergency blood clot risks or those who can't tolerate anticoagulant medications.
Blood clots and the resulting strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary embolism are responsible for approximately 300,000 deaths each year in the United States.
IVC filters were first introduced in 1979, when they were only implanted in around 2,000 people per year. Now, they are used in an estimated 250,000 patients annually.
The filters are usually implanted by a vascular surgeon, although it is no longer necessary to perform surgery to do so. They can be placed in the inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the body, simply by making a small incision in the groin or neck.
IVC filters are designed to be either removable or permanent, depending on the length of time the blood clot risk will last. However, the FDA has warned that many temporary filters have instead been left in place.
Now, the FDA has received more than 1,000 reports of patient injury or death from IVC device breakage, migration or vein perforation, and a new report suggests a leading manufacturer may have hidden their risks.