What does an IVC Filter do, and what are the risks of suffering an IVC Filter Injury?
The inferior vena cava—the largest vein
in the body—carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower extremities to the
heart’s right atrium, then finally to the lungs. An IVC filter is a small,
cone-shaped device with tiny metal spider legs which is implanted in the
inferior vena cava, right below the patient’s kidneys. The IVC filter is
designed to capture blood clots, or an embolism which has broken loose from a
vein in the legs, and is headed toward the lungs or heart.
Blockage in an artery by a blood clot (pulmonary
embolism) can lead to difficulty breathing, chest pain and death, however the
IVC filter permits blood flow around the trapped blood clot. Then, over a
period of time, the blood’s natural anticoagulants will dissolve the clot. The
IVC filters which are most often implanted are known as retrievable filters,
meaning they should be removed when the threat of a blood clot has passed.
When this does not occur, serious IVC Filter Injury Dangers can result.
is Wrong with the IVC Filter?
Because these retrievable IVC filters
have been designed to be removed after a period of time—usually from 29 to 58
days—and they are not being removed
in a timely manner, the result is a serious IVC filter injury risk to patients. Many
believe there are inadequate warnings regarding the length of time the filter
should remain in the body provided by the manufacturers of IVC filters,
therefore IVC filter injuries have increased exponentially. If the manufacturers
of IVC filters were aware of the dangers of leaving the filters inside the body
too long, then they may be charged with failure to warn. Under product
liability laws, the manufacturer is held liable for product defects regardless
of whether there was negligence involved, and a failure to provide adequate
warnings to doctors and consumers is considered a product defect. The most
common dispute regarding failure to warn is whether the risk of injury to the
plaintiff was obvious, or if the injury was wholly unpredictable.
Are the Specific IVC Filter Injury Dangers?
As a result of IVC retrievable filters
being left in patients for indefinite lengths of time, serious IVC filter
injuries can occur. In fact, studies show that as many as 40 percent of retrievable
IVC filters are being left in patients for longer than five years. This has
resulted in filter strut fracture, which, in turn, can cause IVC filter
migration, IVC filter hemorrhage, IVC filter severe bleeding injury, IVC filter
pulmonary embolism, IVC filter stroke and IVC filter death. So far, there have
been 27 deaths associated with an IVC retrievable filter. Embolism is the
second-most frequently reported injury associated with a retrievable IVC
filters left in patients far too long. Additionally, the following side effects
and complications have been seen among patients with an IVC filter implanted in
of breath, and
The majority of IVC filter injury dangers are
the result of:
- Filter breakage—One of the
small metal spider legs can break away, traveling in the bloodstream to the
heart or lungs, causing severe damage or death.
- Perforation of
blood vessels and internal organs—IVC filters can sometimes erode into
the inferior vena cava, or perforate the inferior vena cava, damaging the vein
or can perforate another internal organ.
- Filter migration—An IVC filter
can change positions, and become stuck, rendering it ineffective at the least,
or dangerous, at the other end, if the filter migrates to a position where it
can damage other organs.
- Blood clots-- In some
cases, if the IVC filter becomes clogged with clots, the heart and lower body
will not receive the blood flow necessary.
- Inability to
retrieve the IVC filter—When an IVC filter is causing serious IVC filter
safety problems, a doctor may attempt to retrieve the filter which has moved
into a position that makes retrieval difficult, or impossible.
Are Your IVC Filter Injury Risks?
If your IVC retrievable filter has been
left inside your body for longer than it should have been—any time after your
risk for a blood clot has lessened—then your IVC filter injury risks will increase.
While studies differ on the exact number of patients who will experience an IVC
filter problem or IVC filter failure, the incidence is relatively high. One
analysis, which reviewed CT scans for 262 patients found, that in 46 percent of
the patients, the metal “legs” of the IVC filter had pierced either the
inferior vena cava, or a nearby organ. Another Ohio State study of 591
patients, found some level of perforation in more than 44 percent of the
patients. Unfortunately, many patients have no idea their IVC filter is causing
problems until those problems are serious.
About IVC Filter Deaths?
The failure rate of IVC filters appears
to be at least somewhat dependent on the manufacturer and model of the filter.
A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that
about 25 percent of C.R. Bard Recovery IVC filters had experienced fractures,
sending the broken struts into the body. Others have estimated extremely dire
results from retrievable IVC filters left in the body too long, with
predictions that half of all patients with a retrievable IVC filter implant
will experienced a failure of the device within five years. Others believe that
among the retrievable IVC filters left in the body indefinitely, nearly 100
percent will eventually fail. If you believe these predictions, it is possible there may be more IVC filter deaths.
About IVC Filter Injury Lawsuits?
The first IVC filter injury lawsuits
were filed against Bard in California and Pennsylvania state courts in 2012.
Later, in October 2014, the US Judicial Panel on MDL consolidated lawsuits
against IVC filter manufacturer Cook, from 11 districts to an Indiana MDL. The
lawsuits against Cook has since increased to more than 100. C.R. Bard settled a case filed by Kevin
Philips about a week and a half after the trial began in February 2015. Philips
claimed one of the tiny metal legs of his Bard Recovery IVC filter broke away,
perforating his heart, and forcing him to have open heart surgery to repair the
damage. Another MDL has been established in Arizona, with more than 50 lawsuits
pending, and there are many additional IVC filter lawsuits pending in other state
and federal courts.
IVC Filter Injury Attorneys Can Help
If you have suffered
IVC filter injuries or other serious IVC filter side effects, our IVC Filter Injury Lawyers can help. Our IVC filter injury attorneys believe you can
benefit from discussing your situation with us. We can evaluate your potential
IVC filter injury lawsuit, helping you determine the best way to move forward.