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The Effects of Vein Filters

In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration issued a medical alert warning consumers that inferior vena cava vein filters could potentially move or break, causing medical emergencies. Matt Johnson, M.D., is co-chairing a study to measure the safety and efficacy of vein filters over a five-year period. The IVC is the biggest vein in the body and transports the blood supply from the legs and abdomen back to the heart. Sometimes blood clots in the legs will break off and travel through the IVC to the heart, which then filters into the lungs. When the blood clot reaches the lungs, it can block the blood supply and cause a pulmonary embolism. More than 100,000 people die from pulmonary embolisms each year. The study Dr. Johnson is co-chairing follows patients from the first doctor’s visit, to placement of the vein filter, and up to three years post-op. The FDA, the Society of Interventional Radiology and physicians are collaborating to study the effects of vein filters.