Every year, approximately 250,000 IVC filters are implanted in patients, but an alarming number of these devices are not removed from patients in time, causing additional complications. However, a new technology is paving the way for the removal of IVC filters that could potentially save the lives of thousands of patients currently living with defective IVC filters inside their bodies.

Studies estimate as little as 8% of IVC filters are removed from patients within 3.8 years of implantation. This is alarming considering the FDA recommends the devices be removed between 24 and 59 days after implantation. But IVC filters aren’t always as easy to remove, even within the recommended window. IVC filters like the ones manufactured by Cook Medical, C.R. Bard, and Cordis Corporation, are prone to perforating the inferior vena cava wall, migrating through the body, and fracturing which cause the pieces to embed themselves into vital organs.

When an IVC filter fails within the body, it can be extremely difficult to remove the device. Pieces lodged into the heart or lungs are deemed too risky and devices that have perforated the vena cava wall can’t be removed without causing further damage.

IVC filters left within the body can cause serious and life-threatening complications including internal bleeding or strokes. Many patients left with the defective devices live in constant fear the wrong movement could cause fatal damage. However, relief may be right on the horizon.

A five-year study looked at the safety and efficacy of removing previously irretrievable IVC filters with advanced laser technology. Called endovascular laser-assisted retrieval, the process has successfully removed a variety of different IVC filters. Researchers in the study now believe nearly all defective IVC filters can be removed with this technology.

While more clinical studies need to be performed on this procedure, it could eventually relieve many IVC filter patients of these deadly devices. In the meantime, patients with defective IVC filters are taking action through lawsuits filed against the manufacturers. Plaintiffs in the IVC filter litigation allege they were not adequately warned of the risks associated with the devices. The first IVC filter trials begin next year.