Surgeons implant IVC filters within the inferior vena cava. But when device complications arise, they can create serious health risks. Chronic pain is a common sign of IVC filter complications. This discomfort happens in different places, including the chest, abdomen, and back.
Patient Experiences with IVC Filter Complications
The journal Circulation recounted a 56-year-old woman’s IVC filter injury. The woman reported feeling chest pain and eventually collapsed at the hospital. A computed tomography (CT) scan revealed a foreign object near her heart. Doctors found a three-centimeter metallic strut as well as a small laceration on the right ventricular free wall. The patient recovered well, but needed surgery to resolve her complications (which could have been life-threatening).
According to the International Journal of Angiology, a 27-year-old man with a gunshot wound developed deep vein thrombosis and subsequently had IVC filter implantation. Shortly thereafter, the man experienced abdominal pain and vomiting with streaks of blood. A CT scan revealed an IVC filter prong punctured his inferior vena cava. During surgery to remove the broken strut, the surgeon discovered extensive scar tissue where the prong protruded. This patient recovered normally. but spent several days in the hospital and experienced persistent abdominal pain beforehand.
Both patients were lucky to find effective treatment before suffering permanent internal damage. Many families filed wrongful death claims against IVC filter manufacturers, alleging device fracture caused organ perforation and other complications that eventually resulted in death.
IVC Filter Complications and How to Avoid Them
Doctors often present IVC filters (also known as blood clot filters) as an easy fix to a potentially fatal issue. They require minimal monitoring and your surgeon should remove it after your blood clot risks abate. But the reality for thousands of patients is much different than what the device manufacturers (and therefore doctors) say about the products. IVC filter complications have caused such severe injuries that thousands are now suing.
IVC filters are too often presented as the first and only choice for patients at risk of developing blood clots but cannot take blood thinners. In reality, IVC filters can present enormous complications, according to doctors across the country. These potential IVC filter complications are backed up by a recent Nation Institutes of Health study which examines both the complications and what can be done to prevent them by physicians across the country. The new research sheds some light on the dangers of IVC filters.
Three Categories of IVC Filter Complications
An IVC filter is a cage-like medical device surgeons implant into your inferior vena cava (the large vein carrying deoxygenated blood into the right atrium). The device catches blood clots and prevents pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) from reaching the heart.
While this procedure can save lives, IVC filter side effects and complications may outweigh any benefits. In a study published in Seminars in Interventional Radiology, Doctor Thuong G. Van Ha covers three categories of IVC filter complications and how to prevent them.
The three main complication categories are:
- Procedural complications related to both venous access and filter deployment
- In other words, any complications caused from inserting the IVC filter, or surgery complications.
- Delayed complications, including filter fracture, migration, IVC thrombosis, and recurrent pulmonary embolism
- These complications come after device insertion.
- Filter retrieval complications
- These problems occur when surgeons cannot remove temporary IVC filters.
So Much Still Unknown about IVC Filters
While the study primarily targets surgeons, anyone familiar with IVC filters should read it. Doctor Van Ha concludes “…various complications associated with these filters have been described…but further studies are warranted to fully evaluate the risks associated with both implantation and retrieval.”
As Doctor Van Ha suggests, the risks IVC filters pose may outweigh their benefits. If you’re considering an IVC filter, discuss any potentially fatal complications with your surgeon.
Lawsuit Allegations against Device Makers
Enough cases have been brought against manufacturers C.R. Bard, Inc., and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., that on Aug. 17, 2015, the U.S. District Panel on Multidistrict Litigation announced that all present and future federal product liability lawsuits involving IVC filters are centralized under a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The MDL is scheduled in the District of Arizona. Wrongful death allegations and product liability lawsuits are underway against IVC filter manufacturers. Plaintiffs also accuse device makers of allowing design flaws, take legal action against insufficient injury and side effects warnings, and more.
Problems with IVC filter devices even warranted a safety notice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. The alert came after the FDA received more than 900 adverse event reports about IVC filters.
The FDA recommends filter removal as soon as any pulmonary embolism risks pass. Leaving filters in can cause increased complications such as device migration, embolization and inferior vena cava perforation.
What You Can Do
IVC filter complications can cause emotional and financial stress. Fractured devices require surgical fragment removal, which is expensive. If a surgeon can’t remove fragments, patients usually need life-long medication.
To date, thousands have suffered due to negligence and poor device design. If you or a loved one had an IVC filter implanted and suffered tilting, migration, perforation or inability to remove the device, you qualify for an IVC filter lawsuit. Get a free IVC filter case evaluation today to see if you may qualify for financial compensation.
Jared Heath is the author of The Sound in the Silence. In his role as an SEO content and digital marketing strategist, Jared was directly responsible for managing DrugJustice.com's editorial calendar and published articles on this website from 2015 to 2016. He is now pursuing a new career as a chiropractor.