Standing for inferior vena cava, IVC filters are inserted within a patient’s inferior vena cava—the vein that carries blood to the heart from the lower body—in order to prevent a pulmonary embolism or blood clot. However, these medical devices are linked to a number of risks, and have resulted in multiple instances of patient harm.
Resembling small metal cages with spindly legs, IVC filters were first introduced in the United States in the 1970s. Since that time, the device has evolved, and the first retrievable inferior vena cava filters—those that can be removed from the blood vessel at a later time, unlike the traditional permanent devices—were approved by the FDA in the early 2000s.
IVC filters can be lifesaving devices in certain cases; IVC filters are used to alleviate the condition known as deep vein thrombosis, which is characterized by the formation of a blood clot. An IVC filter works by trapping the blood clot before it can travel to the heart, both restoring blood flow from the heart to the lower body and preventing severe and potentially fatal IVC complications. IVC filters are commonly placed in patients who have a history of blood clots or who are at risk of developing a blood clot, including those patients with pulmonary embolisms, deep vein thrombosis, and patients who are immobile.
Unfortunately, while IVC filters do provide life-saving support in some instances, in others,they can cause undue harm to a patient. The risks of an IVC filter are many, and include:
The above risks can result in chronic pain in the heart and chest for the patient, internal bleeding, damage to the heart or lungs, nerve injury, hematoma, and death. In the five-year period between 2010 and 2005, the FDA reported 921 IVC filter adverse events. Specifically, the FDA named device migration and embolization as the two most common adverse events. Perforations of the inferior vena cava and filter fractures were third and fourth most common adverse events, respectively.
There are two primary brands of IVC filters that have been associated with patient harm: C.R. Bard and Cook Group Inc. The specific models of IVC filters that may lead to patient harm are listed below.
For those who been harmed by an IVC filter, legal remedies are available. Currently, there are patient lawsuits pending against the manufacturers of defective and dangerous IVC filters. If you have been wrongfully harmed by the insertion of an IVC filter, our attorneys can help you pursue legal action. To learn more, contact an attorney today.