IVC Filters

What is the IVC Filter?

An IVC filter (inferior vena cava filter) is a type of surgical filter and medical device that is implanted by vascular surgeons or interventional radiologists into the large veins that carry blood from the body to the right atrium of the heart. The purpose of the IVC filter is to prevent a deadly condition called a pulmonary embolism (PE), or when a blood clot forms in the body, passes into the lungs, and causes serious injury, coma, or death.

Because of the dangers associated with these types of embolisms, IVC filters quickly made their way to the top as surgical solutions to this problem. They work by catching the blood clots before they reach the lungs and literally filtering them into harmless amounts that can safely pass through the lungs and heart.

Dangers from the IVC Filter

However, certain models of this device have been known to fail with these incidents being linked to many reports of serious health complications, including:

  • Perforation – When the medical device moves and perforates surrounding tissues or organs in the body which can lead to serious bleeding events.
  • Migration – When the medical device moves or migrates into another area of the body, which can also damage the surrounding area, as well as fail to prevent the pulmonary embolism it was supposed to prevent.
  • Device Tilting – When the medical device tilts into a surrounding area with similar complications as migration.
  • Fractures – When the medical device fails and literally fractures, causing harmful metallic particles to be released into the body where it can cause serious damage and even poison the blood stream.
  • Heart or Lung Injury – When the device fails or fractures, loose particles from the blood clot and/or the device itself can move into the heart or lungs and cause irreparable damage.
  • Wrongful Death – When the above happens, in the worst cases patients die from the failure of the very device that was supposed to help them.

IVC Filter Lawsuit

Since the early 2000’s, the FDA has been receiving thousands of reports of the device failing with the most common issues being migration (35%), detachment of device components (15%), perforation (7.5%), and fractures (6%). In many of these cases, healthcare providers failed to monitor the device or remove it when it was no longer needed. Inadequate warnings and lack of proper instructions from the manufacturers have also led to the filters remaining in the patient for long periods of time, which increases their risk of potentially deadly complications.