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IVC Filter Side Effect: Blocked Blood Vessels

Blocked Arteries

Arteries are design to form a transportation system for blood to move through the body. The blood is rich in oxygen which is necessary for life. Any deprivation and the brain and organs shut down very quickly.

Under normal conditions, the interior wall of an artery is smooth which allows the blood to flow easily. However, it not uncommon for an artery to become blocked with plaque which builds up on the inner walls of the artery. Plaque is formed from fat, calcium, cholesterol, and fibrin, which clots blood, and usually some degree of inflammation. Plaque buildup is known as atherosclerosis, which narrows the arteries. An elevated level of bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) contributes to plaque buildup.

A portion of the plaque can break off resulting in a reduced blood flow or a complete narrowing of the artery called occlusion. A blood clot can also result when plaque gathers in one spot slowing blood flow.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that has formed in the deep veins of the body, often the legs. If it occurs below the knees, like a varicose vein which is a superficial form, it does not usually travel up the blood stream, but a DVT can completely block blood flow. Symptoms may include a warm feeling in the lower leg pain and inflammation. Unfortunately this blood clot in the lower leg can break loose and travel upward toward the lungs where it can cause a blockage called a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE is often linked to deep vein thrombosis. The two conditions linked together are called venous thromboembolism.

A PE can damage the lung permanently. If the blockage is sufficient enough it can cause a heart attack, stroke and even death.

Symptoms include chest pain, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and coughing up blood while the leg may be swollen and painful. It is estimated 300,000 to 600,000 people experience a DVT or PE every year in the U.S. In about one-third of these cases, patients who go untreated will die.

Several factors can increase the risk of a pulmonary embolism and can include an accident, trauma, surgery, prolonged bed rest, inactivity in a confined space such as an airplane, pregnancy, obesity and some genetic conditions.

These are conditions that can lead to the blockage of blood vessels. Ironically, the treatment can as well.

IVC Filter

The IVC filter is a small metal cage-like device resembling a spider with long legs. If a patient is not a candidate for blood thinners or oral anticoagulants to break up blood clots, he may be a candidate for an IVC filter.

With a basket like cap, the filter is placed in the inferior vena cava (IVC), which is the main blood vessel that brings blood up from the lower half of the body to the heart and lungs. The metal basket is designed to capture any potential upward flowing blood clots, not unlike a catcher’s mitt, to stop them from reaching the heart and lungs. The clot will break down in the bloodstream over time and it’s believed that the clot, once caught by the filter, will eventually break down and not present a risk of PE or DVT to the patient.

Implanted by an interventional radiologist, interventional cardiologist or a vascular surgeon, the procedure involves inserting a catheter in the groin or neck into the IVC.

More than a quarter-million IVC filters are implanted every year to capture blood clots. Retrievable IVC filters are supposed to be removed when the dangers of PE or DVT are resolved, but research shows about 70 percent are left in place.

We find however that the cure may be as bad as the issue it is designed to resolve in a small number of cases.

IVC Filter Complications

There have been reports of IVC filters falling apart, the metal legs fragmenting and moving through the blood, damaging organs by perforating the heart or lungs, and the entire device itself moving inside the artery to a sideways position where it cannot do the job of capturing a blood clot, but instead blocks the artery.

Additionally, there have been reports of blood clots occurring where the IVC filter was inserted.

Other complications from the filter can increase the risk of lower limb deep vein thrombosis and occlusion or blockage of the inferior vena cava. Again, these are the very conditions this device was intended to treat.

Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel. Tufts University noted that while an IVC filter mechanically provides protection from a DVT migrating to the lungs, a thrombosis at or below the filter may occur. It’s unknown whether the thrombosis results from the filter or is from the filtering of a thromboembolism.

Symptoms can range from asymptomatic to a complete inferior vena cava occlusion affecting the legs. Many treating physicians recommend anticoagulation therapy when the filter is placed to prevent an IVC thrombosis. Removal of the IVC filter may be one way to avoid thrombosis. Adding a stent inside the inferior vena cava may be another.

So far there have been at least 921 adverse event reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involving IVC filters. About one-third of those reports involved the device moving in the vena cava, more than 100 reported incidents of the device components detaching, and just as many of the filter fracturing and perforating organs. There have been a reported 300 injuries and 30 deaths from IVC filters, with the Bard Recovery and its successor G-2 among the worst record.

Some of these adverse events may be related to leaving the filter in for long periods of time, even after the risk of PE has passed.

It’s estimated about half or fewer of retrievable IVC filters are ever removed, according to a published report in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

Contact Our IVC Filter Blocked Blood Vessel Lawyers

If you or someone you love has been injured by one of these IVC filters, it is important to contact an IVC filter injury attorney at Farah & Farah as soon as possible. A statute of limitations is present in all personal injury cases and the clock is running on how long you have to file a case.

Our IVC filter blocked blood vessel lawyers can help you receive the financial compensation you will need to cover your medical expenses and for the pain and suffering you have endured. A call is easy and a meeting is complimentary. 1-800-533-3555 will take you to our offices in downtown Jacksonville.

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The pharmaceutical litigation attorneys at Farah & Farah go after negligent corporations that put unsuspecting consumers in harm's way. Pharmaceutical companies not only have a duty to manufacture drugs that are safe, but they also have the obligation to warn consumers regarding dangerous side effects that can be caused by these drugs.

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