Knowing when to leave is half the battle

We all know the type: the person at the party who cannot bring themselves to leave. Whether they just like the sound of their own voice or fear of facing what is at home is just too much, knowing when your time is up is critical.  (Watch this segue.)  And the same goes for IVC filters.

Oh geez.  Its time to go.

Oh geez. Its time to go.

After surgery, the risk of blood clots forming goes up.  If one of those clots makes it into the lungs, it can be bad.  Like, pulmonary embolism-bad.  So, surgeons can place a metal cage or filter in a vein, called the inferior vena cava, to trap blood clots to prevent them from reaching the lungs.  

The problem is that, if these IVC filters are left in too long, they tend to not stay in place. That is, they can move or tilt, causing perforation or tearing of the vein.

These filters have several metal spines, and in a pinch, can also be used to catch bass and stripers.  (This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.)  What has been stated by the FDA is that leaving an IVC filter in too long can be dangerous.

What does this mean to you:

It can sometimes be as important to know when to stop using a particular medical device as it can be to know when to start.

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Thanks for nothing

Medical devices are supposed to solve our medical ailments, not cause them.  What am I missing here?

However, the FDA announced last summer that it was concerned about problems caused by surgical mesh – a medical device implanted, usually in women, to repair a hernia or pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Problems can involve bleeding, infection, pain, and urinary problems.  Then, earlier this year, the FDA ordered makers of surgical mesh to more closely study the risks involved with their products.  As of today, Johnson & Johnson, one of several manufacturers, has stated it will no longer sell surgical mesh products.  (Recall that this is the same Johnson & Johnson who also made the now-recalled DePuy ASR hip implants.)

What does this mean to you:

Though surgical mesh has not been recalled, it has caused enough issues to raise serious concerns.  Keep in mind that complications following a surgery are not always “normal,” and may actually be related to a medical device with known problems.

If it is broke, fix it

Most people don’t like needles, let alone a small camera inserted into their hearts.  But in the case of heart catheters, that long needle allows doctors to see inside a patient’s heart and diagnose, and even prevent, dangerous heart conditions.

Aim right here.

Boston Scientific, maker of the heart catheter called the iCross, has issued a recall.  During surgery, the tip of the catheter can break off and remain lodged in the heart.  This foreign body left inside can cause an embolism, heart attack, or even death.  You can learn more about the recall on the FDA‘s website – here.

What does this mean to you:

As our parents, grandparents and friends continue to age, we will become increasingly dependent on – and at the mercy of – medical devices such as the iCross and DePuy hip implants, that can and do fail.  For these reasons, it is important to know the make and model of any medical device used in case of future recall or problems.

We don’t know what we – I mean, you – are talking about

Baby Boomers appear to be here to stay.  I mean, they even have their own Association now, so you know they’re going to stick around and ask for stuff.  Stuff like hip implants that don’t fail after being implanted, causing pain, swelling, and metal on metal friction to throw off chromium and cobalt ions in to their blood streams.  Some people!  For what it’s worth, the medical research surrounding metal ions is ongoing, but as far as I know, no doctors have started prescribing chromium and cobalt ions to be taken once daily by mouth along with your Flintstones.

Doh!

But, the maker of many hip implants, a company called DePuy (pronounced “Dapew”) who is owned by Johnson & Johnson, knew for quite a while that its ASR hip implants were failing.  It was recently learned that, rather than tell the FDA of the product’s defects, or make a change to its design, or immediately recall the device, DePuy opted merely to not make any more ASR hips, but continue to sell the problematic hips it had remaining.

What does this meant to you:

Many times, patients may not know the brand or model of the particular implant they have.  That is, a person may have a DePuy ASR and not even know it.  If you’re having problems, its important to check with your doctor to see which type you have, and if need be, discuss it with a lawyer.