What Does An IVC Filter Do?

An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter provides protection against pulmonary embolisms in patients who have a temporarily increased risk of blood clots that might travel to their lungs. These spider-shaped filters are most commonly used for patients with pelvic or deep leg vein thrombosis who cannot take blood thinners.

IVC filters can help prevent pulmonary embolisms in patients who are temporarily high-risk for this type of blood clot but who are not good candidates for other preventative measures.

While manufacturers claim they are safe, most of the filters placed today are intended for temporary use only. Many, however, remain implanted for months or even years. Some doctors fail to make a plan for removal. Unfortunately, though, the longer they remain in place, the more likely the patient is to develop complications.

How IVC Filters Work to Prevent Pulmonary Embolism

IVC filters are tiny devices that fit inside the inferior vena cava vein. They have several long, thin “legs” that branch off a central “body.” The design of an IVC filter makes it possible for them to trap blood clots, fat embolisms, and other potentially deadly hazards before they travel up the vein and reach the lungs.

For those who are at an increased risk of pulmonary embolism but cannot take blood thinners, this device provides a short-term solution until the risk lowers, there is an alternate solution, or they can go back on blood thinners.

The filter remains in place in the vein thanks to small hooks. Within a month to six weeks of placement, new tissue grows around these hooks effectively holding the device in place. The tissue growth can, however, make it difficult or impossible to remove later.

There Are Numerous Possible IVC Filter-Related Complications

Since the current generation of “temporary” IVC filters hit the market, there have been concerns about the high rate of complications that seem to occur. Doctors and patients have seen complications during the placement procedure, delayed complications related to problems with the filter, and complications during filter retrieval procedures.

Complications related to filter fracture and failure are most concerning since they include:

  • Breaking of the filter legs;
  • Embedding in the vein, nearby tissues, or organs;
  • Filter migration;
  • IVC thrombosis; and
  • Parts of the filter causing a pulmonary embolism

For a device meant to be retrievable, there are also frequent complications during removal procedures. Surgeons may not be able to remove the device in one piece, parts may be missing, and in some cases, retrieval is impossible because of the damage it will cause to surrounding tissues. Inability to remove may occur even when the procedure takes place within the current FDA recommended removal period.

In 2010, the FDA issued a warning about leaving these devices in place. Currently, they recommend removing the IVC filters about one to two months after placement, within 54 days. However, retrieval rates are still low, according to a presentation at the 2019  International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy.

IVC Filter Manufacturers Face More Than 10,000 Lawsuits Alleging Defective Devices and Inadequate Warnings

As of May 2019, over 10,000 plaintiffs have pending litigation against IVC filter manufacturers including C.R. Bard, Cook Medical, and Boston Scientific. The plaintiffs in these cases allege that the manufacturers failed to issue adequate warnings about the dangers of their devices and that the devices suffer from design and manufacturing defects, among other allegations.

The cases against these manufacturers include two multidistrict litigation (MDL) cases, mass torts that consolidate similar cases for pretrial proceedings. The MDL cases include:

  • MDL No. 2570 against Cook Medical in the Southern District of Indiana
  • MDL No. 2641 against C.R. Bard in the U.S. District Court District of Arizona

Both MDL cases are well underway and as of May 2019, with the initial bellwether trials giving no clear indication about how other juries may rule.

If you or a loved one suffered complications related to IVC filter placement, device fracture, device migration, or removal, the defective medical device attorneys at Tosi Law LLP will review your case at no cost to you. We may be able to help you file a lawsuit, join a mass tort already in progress, or take other action to pursue a payout on your behalf.

Talk to a Lawyer from Tosi Law LLP About Your Case Today

At Tosi Law LLP, we fight for the rights of victims of defective and dangerous medical devices, medications, and products. Our IVC blood clot filter lawsuit lawyers know how to manage mass torts and take other steps to aggressively pursue a payout for our clients.

Call us today at 888-311-8292 for your free case review. You pay us nothing unless we recover an award or settlement in your case. Let us go to work for you and fight for the payout you deserve.

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