Complications of Inferior Vena Cava Filters

Retrievable inferior vena cava filters are small, metal, cage-like devices which are implanted into a patient’s veins to “catch” a blood clot before it reaches the lungs. The largest vein in a person’s body is the inferior vena cava; the vein moves oxygenated blood from the patient’s lower legs to the right atrium of the heart and then to the lungs. The inferior vena cava is located below the kidneys, and when an IVC device is implanted, the surgeon does so through a small incision in the neck or groin. While most patients are given blood-thinning drugs to stop blood clots, some patients are unable to take these drugs, for one reason or another, therefore must have an IVC surgically implanted.

Potential Dangers of Inferior Vena Cava Filters

The IVC device has tiny metal wires which capture and trap blood clots before those clots reach the lungs. Once captured, the body’s natural anticoagulants will dissolve the blood clot. Unfortunately, inferior vena cava filters can be responsible for such serious complications as organ perforation, vein perforation, breakage while implanted in the body, and even migration to other parts of the body. Migration of an IVC can render the device ineffective while bleeding and other complications can arise when the IVC device punctures a vein or organ.

Some IVC Devices Safer than Others

IVC devices were introduced in 1979, and, as of a few short years ago, more than a quarter of a million are implanted annually. Studies show that some IVC filters prevent traveling blood clots better than others. Two IVC filters in particular, the Bard Recovery Filter and the Bard G2 Filter appear to have higher-than-normal rates of failure. A study reported in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2010 showed nearly a quarter of the Bard Recovery filters failed, most when the device fractured. After numerous reports that the radial arms had broken off the Bard Recovery IVC filter, the filter was modified, and subsequently implanted in more than 65,000 patients. A 2012 research study looked at two other retrievable IVC filters with higher-than normal failure rates. These filters were manufactured by Gunther Tulip and Cook Celect.

FDA Adverse Event Reports Concerning IVC Filters

When the IVC filter’s job is done, it is removed by a catheter-like snare which goes into the vein, grabbing the hook located at the end of the IVC device. The FDA issued a safety alert regarding retrievable IVC filters in 2010, after receiving 921 adverse event reports regarding the device between 2005 and 2010. Over a third of these adverse event reports involved migration of the IVC device, with embolism being the second-most frequently reported complication. IVC perforations and the fracture of IVC filters were the third and fourth-most frequently reported complication.

Worry IVC Filter Devices are Being Left Inside Patients for Too Long a Time

The FDA is also concerned that IVC filters, which are intended for short-term use, are being left inside patients long after the blood clot risk is gone. The Journal of American Medical Association looked at medical records regarding IVC failure and found that only 58 out of 679 retrievable IVC filters were actually removed. There were also failed removal attempts in almost 20 percent of the implanted IVC filters. The College of Chest Physicians guidelines recommended in 2012 that an IVC filter should not be placed in any patient without a current venous thromboembolism, and that the risk of long-term complications if the device is left in place should be weighed carefully.

Contact Our Jackson Injury Lawyers

If you suffered serious injury as a result of a retrievable IVC filter, speak to an experienced Jackson dangerous drug lawyer immediately. It is important that you not exceed the statutes of limitations and that your rights are protected now and in the future. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in holding negligent pharmaceutical companies responsible for the dangerous drugs and medical devices they produce. We also believe in fighting aggressively for injured victims – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600.

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