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J Vasc Surg. 2013 Feb;57(2):459-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2012.01.092. Epub 2012 Oct 13.

Endovascular foreign body retrieval.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA 23507, USA.



The number of endovascular procedures performed is increasing exponentially as technology improves. A serious complication of endovascular therapy is loss of a foreign body in the vasculature. We reviewed our experience and evaluated the cause, management, and outcomes of intravascular foreign body (IVFB) misplacement.


We completed a retrospective review of patients who underwent endovascular retrieval of IVFBs between 2005 and 2010. Patients were identified by current procedural terminology code or by our hospital's risk management team. Patients undergoing routine endovascular retrieval of temporary vena cava filters were excluded.


Twenty-seven IVFBs were identified in 26 patients. Twenty patients were asymptomatic (76.9%). Six patients were symptomatic (22.2%) with either pain (n = 4) or abnormal physical findings (n = 2). There were 13 (48.1%) catheter fragments, six (22.2%) guidewires, five (18.5%) inferior vena cava (IVC) filter (embolisms), two (7.4%) stents, and one (3.7%) sheath fragment. There were five (15.6%) embolizations of an IVFB into the right heart, three (9.4%) into a pulmonary artery, eight (25%) into the vena cava, eight (25%) into peripheral veins, five (15.6%) into peripheral arteries, one (3.1%) into a coronary artery, one (3.1%) into a hepatic vein, and one (3.1%) into adjacent soft tissue. The mechanism of endovascular loss was device fracture in 16 (59.3%) cases, loss of control in six cases (22.2%), migration in four (14.8%) cases, and incorrect device deployment in one case (3.7%). The probable cause of foreign body loss was technical error in eight (29.6%) cases. In three cases, IVFB retrieval was not attempted. The misplacement and retrieval were completed during the same procedure in 13 (48%) cases. Twenty-four endovascular retrievals were performed. Fifteen (62.5%) procedures used a snare to remove the IVFB and two (8.2%) used balloon catheters. Three IVFBs could not be removed and two cases were converted to open procedures. Technical success was achieved in 19/24 cases (79.2%). There were no immediate complications related to the retrieval of the IVFB; however, there was a single late complication of pulmonary embolism after failed endovascular retrieval (1/24, 4.2%). Thirty-day survival was 100%.


Intravascular foreign bodies are a serious complication of endovascular therapy that can be minimized with proper device selection and deployment. When an intravascular foreign body is identified, endovascular retrieval should be attempted due to its high success rate and minimal morbidity.

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