Patient who was told IVC couldn't be removed finally gets it out
A patient who had a potentially dangerous IVC filter stuck inside his body has finally had surgery to remove the medical device, after a doctor saw him in a CTV News report.
An IVC filter, or inferior vena cava filter, is designed to save lives by stopping blood clots from reaching the lungs or heart. It consists of thin, metal devices that extend inside the veins.
They’re designed to be eventually removed. However, sometimes they can fracture or result in other potentially deadly complications.
CTV News reported on the device back in August when patient John Boehmer was told he may have to live with the spider-like device in his body for the rest of his life.
Doctors originally put the IVC filters there to catch blood clots from his legs. But when they tried to remove it eight months later, they found that Boehmer's device had shifted. One prong was bent which could have fractured and pierced an organ. His doctors had told him it was too dangerous to remove.
Boehmer was living in a constant state of anxiety.
Lucky for him, Dr. Adnan Hadziomerovic, an Interventional Radiologist from The Ottawa Hospital, was watching CTV News and got in contact with Boehmer to talk about removing his IVC filter.
Hadziomerovic has removed around 200 IVC filters over the years but Boehmer’s case was one of the more complex one’s he had seen.
He warned Boehmer that the surgery was risky but it was a risk Boehmer was willing to take.
Doctors inserted catheters through his groin and his neck, hooking on to the device and putting a tiny lasso around the bent prong to stop it from moving. Then they hoisted the filter up and out.
Forty-five minutes later Hadziomerovic emerged from the operating room with a special souvenir for his patient.
“I am glad it is in there and not in me or with me. I feel very much relieved to see it in glass bottle and not in me," Boehmer told CTV News.
Boehmer is one of the lucky ones. There are dozens of other patients like him with filters stuck in their bodies, hoping to find a doctor who can remove them.
Doctors stress that the use of IVC filters is still essential in some patients with a high risk of blood clots, who cannot take pills to thin their blood.
However, Health Canada recently issued an alert to doctors across Canada, warning of a risk of serious complications, with 121 reports so far of problems like filter fracture, perforation of organs, device migration, and death, with many of these complications occurring with long term use, that's over 30 days. Retrievable filters are intended for temporary use only, says the document.
But a study published in JAMA Surgery found that doctors only removed eight per cent of the filters after almost four years.
The device failures have led to several class-action lawsuits.
Boehmer is among the dozens filing a lawsuit against the device manufacturers.
With a report from CTV’s medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip