For hundreds of patients whose removal of defective IVC filters are considered too risky, a new removal technique might finally provide relief. The new removal technique is called laser sheath tissue ablation and it has already proven to remove embedded IVC filters that could not be removed with standard surgical procedures.

The new method works by putting a small laser inside a sheath that can be placed inside the inferior vena cava right up to the IVC filter. The laser can then vaporize scar tissue that has built up around the filter, thus releasing it for removal.

Inferior vena cava filters (IVC filters) are small cone-shaped devices that are inserted into the inferior vena cava to catch blood clots from the lower extremities before they can travel into the heart or lungs and cause life-threatening complications.

IVC filters are now known to cause a variety of complications. Between 2005 and 2010 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received 328 reports of device migration, 146 reports of detachment of device components, 70 reports of perforation of the inferior vena cava walls, and 56 reports of device fracture.

IVC Filter Removal

Removal of IVC filters that fail can be challenging for doctors because the device can become lodged in the walls of the inferior vena cava or in internal organs like the heart, lungs, or intestines. This often makes the risks of removal too high to operate. However, IVC filters left in the body can cause additional life-long complications like inferior vena cava filter thrombosis.

Hundreds of lawsuits are alleging the IVC filter manufacturers failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks associated with the devices. For plaintiffs who are suffering complications from IVC filters that cannot be removed by normal surgical procedures, this new method might just be a life saver.