Is your IVC Filter dangerous? Inferior Vena Cava Filters Cause Unexpected Injury and Death
What is an IVC Filter?
An IVC Filter (Inferior Vena Cava Filter) is a small medical device that was surgically implanted in patients who were at risk of developing blood clots in their legs. IVC Filters were most commonly implanted in patients who were diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) but could not take blood thinners for some reason. However, doctors also frequently implanted IVC filters in patients who were immobile or had just given birth. In addition, IVC filters were implanted in many patients who suffered from trauma or underwent surgery voluntarily or because of a car accident, gunshot or stabbing injury, dialysis treatment, spinal cord injury, cancer treatment, or serious fall.
Typically, IVC filters were implanted in the patient’s vena cava, which is a large vein located near the abdomen. Originally, IVC filters were designed to trap large blood clots in the bloodstream and prevent them from fatally traveling to a patient’s heart and lungs. However, many patients who had IVC filters implanted have experienced unexpected and dangerous side effects, including significant injury and death.
Why Are IVC Filters Dangerous?
Malposition: Ideally, an IVC filter is properly implanted and positioned in the vena cava at the level of the renal vein. IVC filters that are improperly positioned below the renal vein are usually ineffective and can cause various complications for the patient if the filter has to be retrieved and removed.
Defective Filter Deployment: More commonly, an IVC filter may not deploy effectively. In these situations, an IVC filter is properly implanted but is defective such that its parts get tangled and it does not expand in the vein like it is expected to. When this happens, the IVC filter is likely to be ineffective and can migrate through the vein, causing serious problems. In many cases, if the defective IVC filter cannot be untangled, then another IVC filter must be implanted to catch the defective IVC filter and prevent it from fatally traveling through the patient’s vein to the heart and lungs.
Migration: IVC filters sometimes become loose and migrate from the position where they were implanted to other places in the vein or the heart and lungs. When this happens, the filter must be removed immediately. If the filter cannot be removed and continues to migrate to the heart and lungs then the patient will likely die. Furthermore, while the filter is migrating there is a heightened risk that the filter will puncture the vena cava, causing serious and potentially fatal complications.
Filter Fracture: Most dangerously, small fragments of an IVC filter may break off and migrate through the patients’ vena cava. It is nearly impossible to retrieve and remove small fragments after they begin traveling through the vein towards the heart and lungs. Additionally, broken filter fragments may puncture the vena cava or other blood vessels which often causes serious injury and death.
IVC Perforation: IVC filters that are left in the body too long may eventually erode or tilt and puncture the vena cava. After the filter breaks through the vena cava, it can more easily puncture nearby tissues and organs. Because the IVC filter is usually placed near the kidneys, normally the intestines, ureter, and other blood vessels are damaged as a result of the filter perforation. In cases where the vena cava wall is punctured, the patient inevitably suffers severe injury or death.
Infection: Any time that the vena cava is punctured or an IVC filter has to be retrieved and removed the patient is at risk of developing a potentially serious and dangerous infection.
Thrombosis: Notably, the IVC filter increases a patient’s risk of developing thrombosis. Thrombosis is the localized clotting of blood in the circulatory system. In many cases, the IVC filter actually causes the flow of blood to slow down or creates a blockage that limits the flow of blood back to the heart.
FDA Called for Removal and Injured Patients Filed Suit
Thousands of reports have been filed with the FDA that recorded defective filters and injury or death caused by filter malfunction. In 2005, the FDA began the process of recalling certain IVC filters and eventually determined that the risk of many IVC filters outweighed their intended benefit. Since then, the FDA has recommended that all dangerous filters be retrieved and removed if possible.
Additionally, hundreds of claims have been filed against IVC filter manufacturers alleging that they were aware of the potential risks and failed to warn patients about the possibility of complications. Florida and California appear to be the hub for these lawsuits and litigation is still in process.
Do You Have an IVC Filter? – You May Be Entitled to Compensation
Unless you underwent a procedure specifically to implant an IVC filter, you may not even know that you have one inside of you right now! An IVC filter could have been implanted inside of you during any surgical procedure. Call us today if you know that you have an IVC filter, or if you have had surgery before and experience any of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal Pain
- Chest Pain
- Unexplained Discomfort and Pain
If you have an IVC filter then you may be entitled to compensation. The Mass Tort Team at the Lovely Law Firm is here to help you with your case every step of the way. To schedule a case evaluation free of charge and determine whether you are eligible for compensation, call 843-839-4111 today. Time is of the essence! Call us to help you assert your claim so that you may be compensated.