Inferior vena cava filters, or IVC filters, are tiny metal devices implanted in the inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the human body. The primary objective of implanting an IVC filter is to prevent a pulmonary embolism, in which blood clots block the pulmonary artery. IVC filters can also reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which develops when a large blood clot is in a deep vein within the body. They can prevent these clots from traveling. As blood passes through the filter, clots become trapped, effectively filtering the blood and preventing the clots from causing further harm.
While IVC filters are potentially life-saving devices for some patients, ineffective models have caused serious complications. In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning concerning the number of complaints received regarding IVC filters. The FDA received over 921 adverse event reports concerning IVC filters from 2005–2010.
IVC filters pose several dangers to patients despite their potential for reducing the risk of pulmonary embolism and DVT. Some of the adverse reports the FDA received included:
The FDA recommends that any caregivers of patients with IVC filters remove the devices as soon as there is no further risk of pulmonary embolism. Retrievable devices should be removed immediately after completing their intended purpose because the danger of IVC filter failure grows the longer it remains in the body.
An IVC filter failing in any way causes severe risks to the patient. Surgeons must locate and retrieve broken filters and any fractured pieces from the body as soon as possible. If the filter or pieces of it perforated the vein walls or any surrounding tissues, the effects may potentially go unnoticed for quite some time. The patient bleeds internally, and the risk of infections or more blood clots increases.
Defective or damaged IVC filters are dangerous and potentially deadly. Extensive surgeries may be required to retrieve a defective device and repair any damage done, and broken pieces that travel through the body may necessitate multiple surgeries. Several lawsuits against the manufacturers of defective IVC filters have been filed due to the hazards of defective models.
Despite the numerous complaints associated with these devices, they are still widely used and pose serious risks to some patients. Contact us to discuss your options if you’ve had any complications from a defective IVC filter. Manufacturers of faulty devices should be held accountable for the risks they pose to patients.