What Happens if the Inferior Vena Cava Is Blocked?

A blockage in the inferior vena cava (IVC) can lead to chronic leg swelling, pain, and immobility, according to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) IVC Filter Clinic. There may be other health complications depending on a person's age and preexisting medical conditions.

There are serious side effects if the inferior vena cava (IVC) vein is blocked.

The most common cause of an IVC blockage is a blood clot or other complications from an IVC filter. Some IVC blockages lead to paralysis and bowel obstruction.

Understanding the Inferior Vena Cava

It may be helpful to understand the function of the inferior vena cava and why blockages and blood clots are dangerous. The inferior vena cava and the superior vena cava (known collectively as venae cavae) are large veins in the human body. The superior vena cava is in the upper chest, where it is responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood from the upper body, neck, face, and arms to the heart's right atrium.

The inferior vena cava is toward the back and along the spine. It carries deoxygenated blood from the legs, back, abdomen, and pelvis to the heart. People with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), or those who have blood clots in a deep leg vein, are at risk for IVC blockage.

Having DVT also increases the likelihood of a blood clot breaking off and traveling to the heart, lungs, or brain. If this happens, patients could have a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or stroke.

IVC Filters Are the Major Cause of Inferior Vena Cava Blockage

Some pregnant women have issues with the IVC when laying on their backs. The weight of the fetus can press against the vein and may contribute to complications during pregnancy and birth. Pregnant women are advised to sleep on their left-hand side to ensure proper blood flow from the IVC.

However, the leading cause for blood clots or blockages in the IVC is the insertion of an IVC filter, according to the website These filters now carry a warning from the FDA because of potentially fatal side effects and complications.

Blockages Are One of Many Potential Side Effects of an IVC Filter

An IVC filter is a small metal device that is inserted into the inferior vena cava to prevent blood clots from traveling to your lungs, heart, and brain. IVC filters look like tiny metal cages or umbrellas. They were designed for patients who cannot take blood thinners, which is the standard treatment for DVT and pulmonary embolisms (PE).

However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in 2010 that advised doctors to avoid using these potentially deadly medical devices. In addition to potentially causing blockage from a blood clot, the side effects from IVC filters include:

  • Device breaking inside the body
  • Device migrating (moving)
  • Improper placement
  • Perforated organs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Hypotension
  • Pulmonary embolisms
  • Complications when retrieving the device
  • Pain
  • Death

Although healthcare professionals have been warned against implanting IVC filters in patients, they may use them in rare circumstances. These circumstances include:

  • Patients with DVT and PE who cannot tolerate anticoagulant therapy (blood thinners)
  • When blood thinners have not been effective in treating DVT or PE
  • Emergency treatment after a massive pulmonary embolism and conventional measures fail

What Happens If You or a Loved One's Inferior Vena Cava Is Blocked

The symptoms and signs of a blocked IVC include:

  • Visible swelling in the legs, abdomen, or genital area (sometimes all three areas appear swollen)
  • Pain in the lower extremities
  • Difficulty walking or immobility

If you or a family member has an IVC filter and notices these and other unusual symptoms, get medical attention right away. You should not take any chances when it comes to potential complications with your heart or circulatory system.

A medical professional can diagnose your symptoms and suggest treatment if you have a blocked IVC. An IVC blood clot filter lawsuit lawyer can help you recover compensation if your condition was caused by an IVC filter.

Potential Compensation for IVC Blockage or Other Complications

If you or a family member suffered an IVC blockage or experienced other complications from an IVC filter, you could be entitled to compensation. Tosi Law LLP helps injured and disabled men and women through the process of mass tort product liability cases.

If you qualify, you could recover compensation for physical, emotional, and financial damages such as:

  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery to correct the IVC complication
  • Other medical expenses
  • Lost pay
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability

There are statutes of limitations for filing a claim or lawsuit. We invite you to call the law firm of Tosi Law LLP today at 888-311-8292 today to find out if you are eligible for compensation.

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