IVC Filter Injury Attorneys
Truth: IVC filters are designed to prevent blood clots from migrating up to the heart and lungs, which can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
Truth: IVC filters have the risk of fracturing or migrating. If pieces of the filter have broken off, those fractured pieces can also migrate. If any part of the filter reaches the heart or lungs, it can be life-threatening.
Truth: IVC filters should be removed when the risk of developing blood clots has decreased so patients can avoid the dangers of the filter breaking or migrating. However, in many cases, they’re never removed.
IVC filters are supposed to prevent life-threatening pulmonary embolisms by stopping dangerous blood clots and blockages from reaching the lungs and heart. If IVC filters are left in for too long, the risk increases that the filter itself can become the danger. Filters can fracture and break, with pieces migrating towards the heart and lungs. Sometimes the entire filter migrates.
Just as the blood clots and blockages would have been life-threatening, the filter itself becoming a blockage in the heart or lungs can also cause injury or death. In addition, the removal process can be dangerous, so many doctors won’t want to attempt it.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a defective IVC filter, don’t hesitate to get the justice and compensation you deserve. We’ll take on the corporations that chose profit over recalling defective devices for patient safety. The consultation is free and you won’t pay a dime unless your case is successful.
What Is an IVC Filter?
An IVC filter is a medical device that is implanted into the inferior vena cava vein (which is what the IVC in the filter’s name stands for) in order to prevent blood clots there. It resembles a small basket made of wire and is implanted via surgery and is designed to be used as a preventative for pulmonary embolisms, or any kind of blockages that occurs in the lungs’ arteries.
What Is the Inferior Vena Cava?
The inferior vena cava is one of the two venae cavae, or large arteries that transport deoxygenated blood from the body to the heart. The inferior vena cava transports the blood to the heart’s right atrium from the lower half of the body, while the superior vena cava transports blood from the upper body.
The vein prevents blood from flowing down it through gravity with a series of valves and by having rigid vein walls. Blockages in the inferior vena cava are rare, but when they occur, they are considered life-threatening emergencies.
How Does an IVC Filter Work?
Although blockages in the IVC vein are rare, it’s possible for blood clots to form in the legs and pelvis (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT). These clots can travel up the vein to the heart or lungs and cause a pulmonary embolisms, which can be life-threatening. IVC filters work by trapping the clot or blockage further down in the vein so that it cannot reach the heart or lungs.
Who Needs an IVC Filter?
IVC filters are meant to be a medical treatment of last resort. It can only be inserted via surgery, and are considered permanent. Only patients who are at high risk for pulmonary embolisms and who have not responded to or who otherwise cannot take blood thinner medication (such as Xarelto) are recommended to have an IVC filter inserted. Doctors only prescribe IVC filters in cases where other medical treatments aren’t an option.
Patients who received IVC filters are usually at risk due to:
- Pulmonary embolisms, which are blood clots or other blockages in the lungs, caused by blockages that have migrated from elsewhere in the body
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which are blood clots in deep veins, usually in the legs
- Being immobile for a significant length of time
Causes of Deep Vein Thrombosis
The following conditions can increase the risk of patients developing a deep vein thrombosis:
When a deep vein thrombosis forms in the leg, there isn’t just the risk of it traveling to the heart or lungs to cause a pulmonary embolisms. There’s also the risk that it can damage the vein and cause the valves in the inferior vena cava to weaken or begin to leak. This can cause blood to pool in the legs, which is also a risk with extended periods of immobility, whether it’s due to medical conditions or because of long travel.
Risks of IVC Filters
As with any medical procedure or surgery, there are risks involved. For IVC filters, the risks include:
- Allergic reaction
- Problems with filter placement
- Excessive bleeding
- A continued risk of blood clots
- Damage to the blood vessels or vein at the site of insertion
- The filter causing blockages in the vein
- The filter traveling to other parts of the vein
- The filter traveling to the heart or lungs
- The filter piercing through the vein
- Fracturing of the filter
Traveling IVC Filters
The most dangerous of these risks is the filter traveling from the insertion site. If the device travels outside of where it is placed, that may prevent doctors from being able to remove it later. It can also cause the IVC filter to pierce through the vein, causing internal bleeding, pain, and possible damage to other organs in the body. If the IVC filter travels to the heart or lungs, it can cause serious injury or even death.
IVC Filter Removal
Many IVC filters are designed to be removable, so that when the risk of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms has passed, they can be surgically removed. However, they’re often not removed, even if they’re the removable type, and the risks of traveling or fracture of the IVC filter increase over time.
Many of the potential side effects can be avoided by removing the IVC filter in patients who are no longer at risk for the medical conditions it was inserted to treat. Studies show that IVC filters are only removed about ⅓ of the time, however. In IVC filters that have been left in for more than 5 years, about 40% of them experienced a fracture.
The FDA has issued warnings about the risks of using an IVC filter. The first safety communication was issued in 2010 and regarded the potential risks that were associated with using an IVC Filter. The risks the FDA was concerned about included:
- Fracture of the IVC filter
- Migration of the filter
- IVC vein perforation
- Embolization (movement of all or part of the IVC filter into the heart or lungs)
- Difficulty in removing the filter
When it comes to IVC filter removal, the FDA recommends that filters be removed as soon as is medically possible and the protection it provides against pulmonary embolisms is no longer needed. However, removal should be considered on a patient-by-patient basis, so that doctors are considering what the health effects of another surgery to remove the IVC filter might be on the patient. Studies commissioned by the FDA found that after a period of between 29 to 54 days after the IVC filter was inserted, the risks of the IVC filter begin to outweigh the benefits. At this point, it is recommended that the device be removed.
Defective IVC Filters
Defective IVC filters can have a higher risk of migrating or fracturing. Fractured pieces of IVC filters can also migrate. This can make the filter extremely difficult and potentially dangerous to remove. As in the case of Chris Svedise, who had had an IVC filter inserted to prevent his frequent blood clots from becoming pulmonary embolisms and discovered during a routine IVC filter check with his doctor that the device had traveled dangerously close to his heart, many doctors were unwilling to attempt to remove it.
He met with a specialist, Dr. William Kuo of the Stanford Health Center’s IVC Filter Group, who was able to remove it, but not at great risk. Several of the legs had broken off already and had traveled to Svedise’s lungs, while additional legs broke off during the surgery and migrated to his heart.
C.R. Bard’s IVC Filters
According to NBC News, the G2 and G2 Express filters produced by medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard caused 27 deaths as of 2015. The company had been concerned about failures of their IVC filters, but instead of recalling the device, the company instead continued to sell it, keeping the filters on the market until 2010. NBC’s report claimed that internal documents within the company had showed that the G2 series IVC filters fractured and traveled to other parts of the body more often than IVC filters made by competitors.
Litigation Against IVC Filter Manufacturers
C.R. Bard is not the only company whose IVC filters were the subject of complaints. Patients have filed lawsuits against a number of IVC filter manufacturing companies, alleging that the manufacturers of IVC filters were negligent in both producing defective devices that were more likely to fracture and/or migrate, endangering their lives, and in failing to adequately warn patients and their doctors of the risks.
Litigation Against Cook Medical
Cook Medical is facing lawsuits filed as recently as November 7, 2018 in Indiana over its IVC filter Celect Vena Cava Filter. The case was filed by a patient who had the device implanted in 2012 and was injured by it. He alleges that the company did not adequately warn of the risks and that the device was defective.
Another case filed by a woman in Pennsylvania alleged the same thing - that she’d been injured by her IVC filter from Cook Medical and that the company had mislead her and her doctor about the risks of using the IVC filter.
Those cases is one of 4,700 other lawsuits against Cook Medical that have been filed. These cases will be combined into one multi-district lawsuit against the company. The plaintiffs of these cases have three complaints against the company:
- Designing a defective device
- Providing misleading marketing
- Failing to adequately warn doctors and patients of the dangers
When Should I Consider an IVC Filter Lawsuit?
The following questions can help you figure out whether you have a case:
- Have you had an IVC filter that fractured or migrated?
- Did the filter perforate any of your veins?
- Were you injured or was your life threatened by the IVC filter?
- Was your IVC filter left in after your risk of developing blood clots decreased and it should have been removed?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a case against the company that manufactured your IVC filter. Contact Farah & Farah to speak with a highly experienced attorney about your case. The consultation is free and you won’t pay anything unless your case is successful. Don’t wait to get the justice you deserve.