As an increasing number of patients experience complications with retrievable IVC filters, doctors are faced with a new challenge: how to remove the defective devices. The devices should be able to be removed with a simple, non-invasive procedure, but pieces of the filters often become lodged within the walls of the inferior vena cava or embed themselves in vital organs, making them too risky to remove.

This was the case for John Boehmer who had an IVC filter implanted to prevent blood clots from traveling into his heart and lungs. When surgeons went to remove the device, they discovered Mr. Boehmer’s IVC filter had perforated the wall of his inferior vena cava. One of the legs of the device had gone completely through the vena cava wall and nearly punctured his pancreas.

Mr. Boehmer lived in fear the device would cause further complications, but relief finally came when he met Dr. Adnan Hadziomerovic. Dr. Hadziomerovic is an interventional radiologist specializing in IVC filter removal.

Dr. Hadziomerovic has removed around 200 IVC filters, but even he was shocked at the condition of Mr. Boehmer’s IVC filter. By inserting catheters through the groin and the jugular vein in the patient’s neck, Dr. Hadziomerovic was able to hook the leg of the device that was nearly puncturing the pancreas to keep it from moving while gently pulling the rest of the filter out.

Mr. Boehmer can now breathe a sigh of relief, but he is one of the lucky ones. Not all patients with defective IVC filters can have the devices removed, even by specialists like Dr. Hadziomerovic. For patients like a California woman who recently filed an IVC filter lawsuit, the device cannot be removed because pieces of the device have become embedded in her heart. Despite doctors’ best efforts and advances in medical technology, some patients may be stuck with their IVC filters for life.