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Experts Debate Risk-Benefit of IVC Filters

Experts Debate Risk-Benefit of IVC Filters

December 7, 2015 — Two experts debating the risks and benefits of IVC filters have been featured on ASH Clinical News.

Dr. Anita Rajasekhar, a hematologist from the University of Florida, and Dr. Joseph Stavas, professor of radiology at the University of North Carolina, debated the role of IVC filters in clinical practice.

Both doctors agreed that the devices pose serious risks, especially when retrievable filters are kept in place longer than necessary. According to Dr. Stavas, recent studies have shown that the retrieval rate is low — about 30% — and design improvements need to be made:

“Have we made progress since the Mobin-Uddin filter? Absolutely – that filter was practically a flying saucer held in the IVC with a string – but the evolution and innovation in IVC filter development is far from perfect.”

Despite growing evidence of long-term safety risks, the popularity of IVC filters has skyrocketed in the last 10 years. The problem is that guidelines about when to implant the devices vary widely. This has led to filters being implanted in patients when the risks clearly outweigh the benefits.

The doctors also expressed concern about a lack of studies showing that temporary IVC filters are actually effective at improving survival, with Dr. Stavas warning that “the evidence is all over the chart.” He said the devices were overhyped in the 1970s and “eventually became a crutch … providing a false sense of security.”

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