What is an IVC filter?
An inferior vena cava (“IVC”) filter is a small device, usually made of metal, which prevents blood clots from getting stuck in your lungs. IVC filters look like small wire cages. These metal devices are inserted into your inferior vena cava, which is the vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart.
IVC filters were first introduced in 1979. To date, hundreds of thousands of IVC filters have been implanted in patients.
What are IVC filters used for?
IVC filters are designed to catch blood clots before they move into a patients heart, lungs, or other body areas. Each year, around 200,000 blood clot filters are implanted to prevent pulmonary embolisms. Surgeons will implant IVC filters in patients with pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis who should not be given drugs to stop blood clots. Thus patients who cannot take blood thinners, but are at risk for blood clots, may instead be implanted with an IVC filter.
Why are there IVC filter lawsuits?
Thousands of cases have been filed by patients who allege they were injured by defective IVC filters. Many cases currently are on file in San Francisco, and more than a hundred cases are pending in Indianapolis. Patients have alleged multiple claims against IVC filter manufacturers concerning defective retrievable IVC filters, including design defect, manufacturing defect, consumer fraud, misrepresentation, strict liability, failure to warn, and wrongful death.
What are the problems with retrievable IVC filters?
Patients allege IVC filters migrate, meaning they move within the body. They also allege the IVC filter tilts or shifts, resulting in the filter fracturing or exploding in the body, preventing removal and causing filter pieces to migrate within the body, including traveling to the heart and lungs. Plaintiffs also allege IVC filters will puncture adjacent organs and blood vessels.
Are IVC filters safe? Has the FDA received complaints?
The Food & Drug Administration has received numerous reports about problems with retrievable IVC filters. The problems include IVC filter fracturing, the filter moves, or “migrates,” in the body after implantation, pieces of the IVC filter move into the patient’s heart or lungs, the IVC filter punctures human tissues, and complications arise when attempting to extract a retrievable IVC filter.
The FDA explains:
FDA has received reports of adverse events and product problems associated with IVC filters. Types of reports include device migration, filter fracture, embolization (movement of the entire filter or fracture fragments to the heart or lungs), perforation of the IVC, and difficulty removing the device. Some of these events led to adverse clinical outcomes. These types of events may be related to how long the filter has been implanted. Other known long-term risks associated with IVC filters include lower limb deep vein thrombosis and IVC occlusion. For patients with retrievable filters, some complications may be avoided if the filter can be removed once the risk of pulmonary embolism has subsided. The FDA is concerned that retrievable IVC filters, when placed for a short-term risk of pulmonary embolism, are not always removed once the risk subsides.
On August 9, 2010, the FDA issued a safety communication stating IVC filters “are not always removed,” and known long term IVC filter risks include lower limb deep vein thrombosis, filter fracture, filter migration, filter embolization and IVC perforation.
Who makes IVC filters?
IVC filter manufacturers include:
- Bard G2, G2X, G2 Express, Eclipse, and Recovery
- Cook Medical Gunther Tulip, and Celect
- Johnson & Johnson Cordis, OptEase, and TrapEase
- Boston Scientific Greenfield SS and Ti-Permanent
- B. Braun Medical Convertible, Vena Tech and LP
- Rex Medical Option
- Rafael Medical SafeFlo
What are IVC filters made of?
Retrievable IVC filters are usually made of metals that are non-magnetic. For example, Bard’s IVC filter is made of Nitinol, or nickel titanium alloy. Cook’s IVC filters are made of Conichrome, or cobalt chromium nickel molybendium iron alloy.
How are IVC filters placed in the body?
Your IVC filter generally will be placed just below your kidneys using a catheter to deploy the IVC filter. A vascular surgeon or cardiologist will administer a local anesthetic, numb the insertion site, and insert a catheter into your groin via a small incision into your large vein.
The catheter is used under x-rays to guide placement of the IVC filter in your inferior vena cava below your kidneys. The filter is then deployed. After deployment, the catheter is removed and your groin incision is bandaged.
How are IVC filters removed?
Similar to filter insertion, removing your IVC filter is done under x-ray and using a catheter with a snare. The catheter snare hooks onto the end of your IVC filter, which is then covered in a sheath, and then removed from your body.
How long do IVC filters stay in?
Some IVC filters permanently remain. Optionally retrievable IVC filters are usually placed in patients with a high risk of pulmonary embolism, and are later removed when risk decreases. Usually, a retrievable IVC filter can be removed if done within several months of insertion. Your IVC filter will be removed based on your particular risk factors, including whether you can take blood thinners, and the length of time you are at risk for blood clots. Generally, the longer a retrievable IVC filter has been in place, the more difficult it becomes to remove. The most common reasons an IVC filter cannot be removed are it becomes lodged in the wall of your inferior vena cava, or the filter becomes filled with large blood clots.
Do I have an IVC filter claim?
If you or a family member has had any problems with your IVC filter, you may have a claim. IVC filter problems include nausea, vomiting, heart racing, abdominal pain, and back pain. More serious IVC filter problems include filter moving or migration, filter tilting, and filter fracture. Especially dangerous is an IVC filter migrating to the heart, or fractured pieces of the filter migrating to your heart or lungs.
What will I receive if my IVC filter lawsuit is successful?
Plaintiffs, if successful, may be able to seek compensation for their medical expenses, lost income and lost future earnings, pain and suffering, and compensation for any permanent disability. Your lawyer’s costs, expenses, and legal fee will be paid from the settlement or verdict in your favor. Your counsel will be paid nothing if the claim is unsuccessful.
Join an IVC filter lawsuit
We are currently investigating injuries resulting from IVC filters. If you, or someone you know, was injured by an IVC filter, please fill out our confidential form, as you may have a valuable legal claim.