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Local News

Saint Joseph radiologists recommend removal of filters designed to stop blood clots

Filters known to migrate, fracture within body

JOLIET – Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet is recommending a removal procedure that could save the lives of people who have had temporary and retrievable inferior vena cava filters installed.

IVC filters can be a life-saving technique when used to reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism in at-risk patients who don’t respond to, or cannot be given, conventional medical therapy such as blood thinning medications. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received numerous reports of adverse events and device complications associated with IVC filters, including device migration, filter fracture, movement of the filter or fracture fragments to the heart or lungs, perforation of the IVC and difficulty removing the device.

Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center radiologist Noah Schwind said some patients have had the filters in their bodies for up to a decade.

The filters were initially FDA approved as potentially retrievable. But several years later, patients started experiencing issues with the filters either migrating from the original spot they were placed in, or breaking and getting into the heart, lungs and other organs.

Now there’s a push to make sure patients who have these filters installed follow up with their doctors so the filters can be removed as soon as possible.

Schwind said a few patients have come to Saint Joseph’s with the filter dangerously close to becoming a severe issue. He said patients have had struts or legs of the filter fractured into or near the heart.

The filters can create cardiac tamponade, which is when blood or fluid builds up around the heart and puts extreme pressure on it. Filter issues could lead to cardiogenic shock, Schwind said.

While the call for prompt removal of temporary IVC filters has been increasing nationally, average retrieval rates are below 20 percent, according to Endovascular Today.

About 15 percent to 20 percent of IVC filters require advanced retrieval techniques, according to Endovascular Today, including those performed by the board-certified interventional radiologists at Saint Joseph.

Schwind said some patients may have been so sick they might not be aware the filters were installed. People are encouraged to contact their primary care doctor if they think, or know, they have had the filters installed.

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