IVC Filter Dangers

IVC Filter Dangers
Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters are supposed to protect patients from the danger of pulmonary embolism. But a growing body of research has begun to question whether or not the benefits of IVC filters outweigh their risks. These studies suggest that retrievable IVC filters pose a danger of fracture and migration, which can cause patients to experience life-threatening injuries and complications.

IVC Filter Lawsuit Reviews

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is evaluating potential legal cases on behalf of individuals who may have been harmed by a retrievable IVC filter. If you suffered a complication that could be related to the malfunction of one of these blood clot filters, please call (888) 994-5118 to learn more about your available legal options.

IVC Filters Risks

Retrievable IVC filter are small, wire-like devices that are implanted into the inferior vena cava, the large blood vessel that carries blood from the lower body to the heart. These filters are intended to prevent a pulmonary embolism, which forms when a blood clot breaks away from the veins in the legs and travels to the lungs. The IVC filter catches the clot before it can become a pulmonary embolism. IVC filters are indicated for patients who are unable to use standard blood thinners. Retrievable devices are intended to be removed once the patient is no longer in danger of experiencing a pulmonary embolism.

In 2010, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) disclosed that IVC filters had been implicated in more than 920 adverse event reports since 2005, some of which led to serious patient complications. The adverse events reported to the FDA included:

  • More than 320 instances of IVC filter migration
  • 146 reports of embolization
  • 70 cases of filter perforation
  • 56 filter fractures

In its initial alert, the agency noted that the incidents may have been related to a retrievable filter remaining in the body long after the risk of pulmonary embolism had subsided. Just four years later, the FDA issued a second alert regarding the importance of retrieving IVC filters.

Studies Weigh IVC Filter Dangers, Benefits

In recent years, a number of studies have examined IVC filter dangers, raising questions about the risks and benefits associated with the devices.

  • April 2013: A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine pointed out that the efficacy of IVC filters has “never been validated by empirical studies,” and asserted that the history of the filters “provides valuable insight into the shortcomings of medical device approval in the United States.”
  • May 2012: Researchers writing in the American Journal of Medicine wrote that: “It appears the vast majority of filters that are placed in patients with a pulmonary embolism may not reduce mortality… Only a small percentage of patients suffering from a pulmonary embolism are in shock or in need of ventilation support, and therefore only a small proportion need a filter.”
  • October 2015: A paper published in the Annals of Surgery indicated that the use of IVC filters in trauma patients provides no additional survival benefit. In fact, trauma patients who receive the filters appear to develop deep vein thrombosis at a higher rate than those who do not.

Potential IVC Filter Complications

Complications that may be associated with retrievable IVC filters include:

  • Migration: The filter moves from its place of implantation. In such cases, the device may erode the wall of the inferior vena cava. A migrating filter could fail to catch blood clots, and fail to prevent a pulmonary embolism.
  • Fracture: If an IVC filter breaks, it may embolize and travel through the blood stream to another part of the body. This may lead to chest pain heart perforation, cardiac tamponade, and other life-threatening events.
  • IVC Perforation: The filter or its components may perforate the inferior vena cava.

IVC Filter Lawsuit Reviews

Patients who allegedly suffered serious injuries due to a retrievable IVC filter may be entitled to compensation from the device’s manufacturer. To arrange for a free lawsuit review, please contact Bernstein Liebhard LLP by calling (888) 994-5118.

  1. FDA (2010) “Removing retrievable Interior Vena Cava Filters: Initial Communication” http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm221676.htm
  2. FDA (2014) “Removing retrievable Interior Vena Cava Filters: FDA Communication” http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm396377.htm
  3. JAMA Internal Medicine (2013) “How Could a Medical Device Be So Well Accepted Without Any Evidence of Efficacy?” http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1669099
  4. American Journal of Medicine (2012) “Impact of Vena Cava Filters on In-hospital Case Fatality Rate from Pulmonary Embolism” http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2811%2900481-5/fulltext
  5. Annals of Surgery (2015) “Prophylactic Inferior Vena Cava Filter Placement Does Not Result in a Survival Benefit for Trauma Patients” http://journals.lww.com/annalsofsurgery/Abstract/2015/10000/Prophylactic_Inferior_Vena_Cava_Filter_Placement.4.aspx
Last Modified: February 24, 2016

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