What is an IVC Filter?
Retrievable inferior vena cava filters (IVC Filters) are small metal devices that are implanted in the inferior vena cava (a vein that takes blood from the lower body to the heart) that are supposed to stop blood clots from reaching the lungs and heart.
IVC filters are inserted into the body using a catheter through a small incision in the neck or groin. The filter has a cage-like design with metal wires that are designed to stop blood clots before they can cause a pulmonary embolism (when blood clots enter the lungs) which can result in death.
The FDA issued a safety alert in 2010 announcing potential risks with temporary or retrievable filters such as damaged veins and failure to stop blood clots from bypassing the filter. In the alert, the FDA discussed how it received 921 reports of adverse events in a five year span that included issues such as device migration, filter perforation, and filter fracture. A migration is considered to be an event when the filter moves away from its intended spot.
IVC filters were introduced in 1979. Doctors implant approximately 250,000 filters in patients every year, according to an NBC News report.
Until recently, IVC filters were permanent fixtures, but now there are several different kinds including permanent, optional, and retrievable. The retrievable IVC filters have been associated with the most complications such as device fracturing or migration.
Can an IVC Filter Kill You?
A flurry of lawsuits are being filed against C.R. Bard and Cook Medical, two manufacturers of allegedly faulty IVC filters that are causing serious bodily injuries and even fatalities. An IVC filter, also known as an inferior vena cava filter, is designed to trap blood clots that break loose from your leg or pelvis. But over the years, studies and news stories have shown that the medical device can lead to adverse events such as vein and organ perforation, which damages surrounding organs. In some cases, the filter has migrated away from its original location inside the body and travels to the heart.
A recent NBC News investigation reported that at least 27 deaths have been linked to the C.R. Bard Recovery IVC filter in the past 10 years. The media outlet also obtained government data that shows 300 other medical issues resulting from the use of the Recovery filter.
During the summer, NBC News learned that there were hundreds of lawsuits filed against G.R. Bard. There were nearly 100 cases filed against Cook Medical regarding its IVC filters.
The FDA has been closely monitoring developments regarding the defective medical devices. In 2014, the FDA distributed an IVC filter safety update calling for the removal of all these devices within 29 to 54 days of implantation. The agency required C.R. Bard and Cook Medical to perform more studies on the filters to assess their safety.
If you or someone you know has experienced injuries resulting from these medical devices, our experienced and knowledgeable IVC filter attorneys can handle your case. We are also providing educational information as a resource to help you learn more about IVC filters, how they work, and the dangers they pose.
What are IVC Filters used for?
Often these IVC filters are used in patients who are at risk of blood clots from other medications, patients who are immobile, patients who are diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), patients who have a pulmonary embolus, or those who have recently had surgery. IVC filters are commonly used when other methods, such as blood thinning medication (anticoagulants), cannot successfully treat the condition.
Although IVC filters were intended to help people and prevent a dangerous situation from occurring, the filters themselves present a significant and ongoing health risk. Problems with retrievable IVC filters began to occur in the early 2000s causing the FDA to eventually put out a safety alert. The longer IVC filters were left in place, the more complications and risks were identified.
In some cases, the IVC device itself becomes irretrievable because of the complications.
IVC PROBLEMS REPORTED
● Devices fracturing and breaking apart
● Device migration – where pieces of the IVC filter travel through veins eventually damaging or puncturing veins or vital organs
● Pieces of the device detaching (also known as device embolization)
Read more about common IVC filter complications.