March 14, 2016 — A new study has found significant short-term and long-term risks associated with blood clots that form in the body when temporary IVC filters are not removed.
In severe cases, blood clots travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Blood clots can also damage veins and cause venous gangrene in the fingers and toes.
Cardiovascular Interventions published a comprehensive review of the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment IVC thrombosis (blood clots). Researchers warned:
“Counting on the physical examination to reliably yield a diagnosis is fraught with error, as the most common symptoms of IVC thrombosis are likely limb edema, discomfort, and venous varicosities, all common and non-specific findings.”
Left untreated, 90% of patients with IVC thrombosis develop post-thrombotic syndrome, 45% develop venous claudication, 30% develop pulmonary embolism, and 15% develop venous ulceration.
These complications occur when the body tries to heal after a blood clot damages veins and valves. Impaired circulation to the legs causes limping, chronic leg pain, swelling, redness, and ulcers (sores).
Researchers also warned that IVC thrombosis accounts for 2.6-4% of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) cases, although they said the actual percentage may be underestimated due to the exponential increase in the number of un-retrieved IVC filters in the United States.
The researchers recommended, “Given the significant morbidity associated with IVC filter thrombosis, removal of these filters as soon as possible should be planned at the outset.”
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