IVC filter removal is critical for long-term success. Many patients fail to appear for IVC filter removal surgery. Still others fail to schedule IVC filter removal at all. But the longer a blood clot filter remains in your body, the more likely you’ll get seriously injured—or even die. Here’s what you need to know about IVC filter removal, why injuries happen, and what you can do.
The Dangers of Delaying IVC Filter Removal
An IVC filter is a small, cage-like device implanted in the vessel that returns blood from the lower half of your body. It catches clots that may move to your lungs, preventing embolism. As time passes, clots dissolve back into your bloodstream. While initially considered successful, few long-term safety and efficacy studies on IVC filters exist. Like many implanted medical devices, filters can move or damage surrounding tissue and organs. Often, migration and perforation injuries require intensive surgery to repair.
Doctors implant many pulmonary embolism patients with inferior vena cava (IVC) filters. These devices prevent blood clots from moving into the lungs. While effective in the short-term, IVC filters can pose horrible risks over time. Pulmonary embolism clots are both serious and frequently fatal. According to a JAMA study, PE causes more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. While IVC filters aren’t a new treatment option, they’ve been increasingly popular over the last few years.
FDA Recommends IVC Filter Removal Timeframe Due to Adverse Event Reports
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration published a warning stating that the filters could fracture, migrate and perforate other organs, and that they should only remain implanted in a patient’s body while they had existing blood clots. Unfortunately, due to insufficient communication by drug companies, this isn’t always the case—patients aren’t always warned about the dangers of IVC filters, and many remain implanted with IVC filters long after their risk for pulmonary embolism has subsided.
These filters are generally used in patients for whom traditional coagulants weren’t successful. They’re often the last option for individuals with these serious blood clots, but IVC filter side effects sometimes do just as much—if not more—harm than good.
When Temporary IVC Filters Stay In Permanently
In 2003, C.R. Bard and Cook Medical, Inc. began selling removable blood clot filters. Physicians should monitor patients and remove the filter after blood clot risks dissipate. However, the FDA received hundreds of adverse event reports and IVC filter complaints. The FDA found that the length of time after implantation may increase IVC filter complication risks.
Complication Risks Increase the Longer Patients Delay Filter Removal
In other words, the longer a device stays in your body, the more likely it is to injure you.
Doctors sometimes leave blood clot filters in patients longer than medically necessary because the filter had moved from its original place and the doctor simply can’t get it. When the filter moves, doctors call it “device migration.”
IVC filters can break (“fracture”) or tilt inside the vein, making them less effective. IVC filter fracture means that parts break off and travel throughout the body. The broken pieces may tear a hole in a vein wall, or get lodged in the heart or lungs. These injuries can be fatal and mirror the complications IVC filters are meant to stop, causing additional health concerns.
The FDA’s Fix
Some associated health concerns disappear with IVC filter removal. In general, always remove an IVC filter after the risk of pulmonary embolism decrease. As of 2014, the FDA’s main concern is that retrievable IVC filters placed to reduce pulmonary embolism risks, aren’t always removed in a timely manner. In some cases, that filter is permanent and requires regular medical monitoring.
An Increase in Usage
According to the FDA, filter usage dramatically increased over the last 30 years. Since 2005, the FDA received thousands of adverse event reports from IVC filter patients, including:
- Device migration
- Device detachment
- Organ perforation
- Filter fracture
The JAMA study defines IVC filter risks in detail. If your surgeon doesn’t place the device correctly during implantation, it can injure you. Mitigating this risk, however, is relatively easy. Additional IVC filter risks called delayed complications remain largely unknown. Device migration involves movement to the heart or pulmonary outflow tract. Filters may fracture, but JAMA reports they’re usually inconsequential complications. Perforation injuries can damage surrounding organs and tissue. Furthermore, when the device moves, it’s unable to properly catch blood clots.
IVC filter lawsuits against companies like C.R. Bard claim failure to warn as well as device defects and negligence. With so many injured patients, companies face thousands of IVC filter claims.
Are You at Risk?
Health concerns about IVC filter removal and device fracture increase the longer it remains in place. After investigating, the FDA recommended physicians monitor IVC filter patients regularly. Additionally, your surgeon should remove this device as soon as associated health risks subside. Patients whose IVC filters say in longer than recommended have a higher risk for severe health complications.
If you or a loved one suffered IVC filter injuries, you may qualify for an IVC filter lawsuit.
What You Can Do
If you or someone you know developed IVC filter complications, you may have an eligible claim. Before you sue, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney who is familiar with mass torts of this nature. As IVC filters reach class-action status, now is the time to get the compensation you deserve.
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.