IVC Filters

An IVC filter is kind of small strainer used to filter out blood clots or keep them from forming and becoming pulmonary embolisms (i.e., blood clots traveling to the lungs). The IVF or inferior vena cava is a large vein entering the right atrium (upper chamber) of the heart. It delivers oxygen-depleted blood from the legs, the pelvis, and the abdomen back to the heart.

A pulmonary embolism can damage lung tissue by preventing blood from flowing to part of the lungs, diminish oxygen levels in the blood, damage other body organs because they receive too little oxygen, lead to pulmonary hypertension (too much blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries), and cause death if a blood clot is large or if there are too many clots.

The IVC filter looks like an umbrella minus the shaft. The spokes of the filter pierce blood clots, breaking them up or preventing them from passing through the inferior vena cava.

Risks Associated with an IVC Filter

Some of these devices are “retrievable,” meaning they should be removed as soon as it is medically feasible. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning last year against leaving the filter in place for extended periods of time. The devices tend to cause life-threatening problems, the FDA said.

In an August 2010 “initial communication,” the FDA listed adverse event reports concerning IVC filters. Of a total of 921 adverse events reported:

  • 328 devices moved from their original implant location
  • 146 involved the device components becoming detached
  • 70 perforated the inferior vena cava
  • 56 of the filters fractured

Among many problems, these adverse events can lead to:

  • Death
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Compromised respiration

The FDA said these kinds of events occurred with retrievable filters remaining in the patients’ bodies “for long periods of time, beyond the time when the risk of pulmonary embolism has subsided.”
The FDA recommended:

  • Physicians and others responsible for caring for IVC retrievable filter patients consider removing them as soon as protection from a pulmonary embolism is not needed
  • Doctors involved in treating and follow-up of IVC filter patients should consider the risks versus the benefits of placing a filter

If a patient suffers complications such as migration, fractures, embolization or perforation, he or she should speak with an IVC filter attorney to find out if he or she qualifies for financial compensation.

Signs of a Defective IVC Filter

Abrupt pain in the chest or shortness of breath are warning signs that device is failing. A diagnosis may be confirmed by a CT scan and other diagnostic tests.

If you or someone you love has suffered from complications associated with your IVC filter, you may be eligible to seek compensation. To learn more contact the defective medical device lawyers at the law office of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis and Overholtz at (844) 794-7402 for a case evaluation.