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Complications From IVC Filters Can Occur

Weinstein Couture is currently accepting and investigating IVC filter cases. If you or someone you know has had an IVC filter inserted and there were any complications, please contact one of our attorneys at 800-406-1690 now.

inferior vena cava filter (IVC Filter)

What Is An IVC Filter?

IVC filters are medical devices that are placed into a patient's inferior vena cava (a vein carrying blood from the lower body to the heart) to assist with the capture of blood clots, preventing them from moving through the body and into dangerous areas like the lungs. A blood clot in the lungs is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). A blood clot that has formed in the legs or pelvis that is at risk of breaking up and traveling to the lungs is known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The IVC filter is placed in patients to prevent a DVT from becoming a PE.

IVC filters have been recommended in situations where anticoagulation is absolutely contraindicated, when anticoagulation has failed in the face of an acute proximal venous thrombosis, or where patients are deemed to be a high risk for pulmonary embolism. They are also used to help people who cannot take blood thinners, such as patients recovering from accidents and surgeries. Unfortunately, the devices are linked to a number of complications, like vein and organ perforation, migration, and breakage.

How It Works

An IVC filter works by forming a net-like structure in the inferior vena cava. The net is too porous to allow blood cells to be trapped, but sufficiently captures any large blood clots that travel through the vein-preventing them from traveling further and turning into something worse, such as a pulmonary embolism.

What Is A Pulmonary Embolism?

A pulmonary embolism is a blockage of the artery in the lungs. It can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and even coughing up blood. A PE can lead to low blood pressure, passing out, fainting, or even death.

Pulmonary Embolism

What Is A Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Deep Vein Thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis is a clot in the lower body, such as the legs or pelvis. If the blood clot breaks or dislodges itself, it can travel throughout the body. DVTs do not usually threaten life. However, when they travel to the lungs, the DVT could cut off normal blood flow and then becomes a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism could result in serious complications or even death-PEs cause about 300,000 deaths every year.

Types Of IVC Filters: Permanent Vs. Temporary

There are multiple types of IVC filters. The most common differentiator between types is whether the device is permanent or temporary. The key areas of difference among the filters are in the diameter of the introducer system and also in the maximal size of the IVC that can be accommodated by the filter.

  • Temporary IVC filters are also referred to as optional IVC filters or retrievable filters. They are used when a patient is high risk for venous thromboembolic events (VTE), and has temporary contraindication to prophylaxis. Patients can use an IVC filter until the conditions change, namely, the risk for pulmonary embolism decreases, and the filter can be retrieved, upon which the patient treatment can proceed using pharmacologic prophylaxis. Although the devices are designed to be retrievable, retrieval can be difficult and is not always successful. The longer a filter is in place, the more difficult it is to remove.
  • Permanent filters are used where patients have permanent conditions that create contraindication for pharmacologic prophylaxis.

Filter Placement

The filters are typically placed percutaneously into the inferior vena cava, using a femoral or jugural approach. A doctor inserts the device using a catheter-a thin tube-into a patient's inferior vena cava through a small incision in either the neck or groin. The metal wires of the device capture and trap blood clots before they can reach the lungs.

Some filters are made to be removable. To remove the filter, a doctor will inject contrast or X-ray dye around the device to make sure the removal will be safe. A catheter-like snare goes into the vein and grabs the hook at the end of the filter. The filter is covered by a sheath and pulled out of the vein.

Some IVC filters that are designed to prevent the traveling of blood clots work better than others. When the filter is not correctly placed, or when it moves despite being correctly placed, the device may puncture a vein, causing bleeding and other complications. Sometimes filters may even migrate away from their surgically positioned placement, rendering them ineffective.

IVC Filter Approved Uses

The FDA has approved IVC filters in the United States for use "for the prevention of recurrent pulmonary embolism (PE) via placement in the vena cava in the following conditions:

  • Pulmonary thromboembolism when anticoagulant therapy is contraindicated;
  • Failure of anticoagulant therapy in thromboembolic disease;
  • Emergency treatment following massive pulmonary embolism when anticipated benefits of conventional therapy are reduced; and
  • Chronic, current pulmonary embolism when anticoagulant therapy has failed or is contraindicated"

If a patient does not meet this criteria, the standard treatment is anticoagulants. However, despite not being approved for implanting in patients without a history of pulmonary embolism, many patients are receiving IVC filters as a first line of treatment.

IVC Filter Complications

Adverse events after placement of IVC filters include:

  • IVC filter fracture
  • IVC filter migration
  • IVC thrombosis
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • access site thrombosis
  • caval penetration (vein penetration)

NBC Nightly Investigates IVC Filters' Flaws

Blood Clots & Alternative Treatment

IVC filters are intended to be used by patients unable to control blood clots and who cannot utilize more tested and safer alternatives . The recommended initial treatment is the use of anticoagulants, or blood thinners, to treat the risk of DVT or PE.

IVC filters can be used for patients that cannot use Warfarin, Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto or other blood thinner medication and have a diagnosed PE or DVT. If a patient is contraindicated for blood thinners, due to for poor coagulation control, an active or recent bleed elsewhere in the body, or they are planning to undergo major surgery, an IVC filter can be used to provide protection from pulmonary embolism. This protection can either be temporary with the placement of a temporary or optional IVC filter, or permanent in the face of long term coagulation risks.

IVC Filter Brands

Manufacturers of Inferior Vena Cava Filters Include:

  • Boston Scientific
  • B Braun Medical
  • R. Bard
  • Cook Medical
  • Johnson & Johnson

Brands of Inferior Vena Cava Filters Include:

  • Bard Recovery
  • Bard G2
  • Bard G2 Express
  • Cook Celect
  • Cook Gunther Tulip
  • Johnson & Johnson Cordis OptEase
  • Johnson & Johnson Cordis TrapEase
  • Boston Scientific Greenfield
  • B Braun VenaTech
  • B Braun VenaTech Convertible
  • B Braun Tempofilter

IVC Filter Lawsuit

If you or a family member were implanted with an IVC filter and wish to speak with an attorney regarding an IVC filter lawsuit, contact a lawyer at Weinstein Couture for a free consultation. We are currently accepting IVC filter lawsuits, and will investigate IVC filter injuries. Contact us regarding IVC filter litigation by calling us at 1-800-406-1690.

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