An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is primarily used to treat blood clots. For many people in the United States, this device can alleviate some of the problems and stress involved with treating blood clots. Unfortunately, some patients have serious complications with IVC filters which may result in a severe injury or even death. You should not have to worry that a product designed to help you may harm you instead. If you were seriously injured or your family member passed away due to complications with an IVC filter, you should consult with an experienced IVC filter lawsuit attorney today.
Attorney Prosper Shaked is here to represent you in your time of need. Prosper Shaked has fought for injury victims and their family members for years, and would be proud to fight for you and your loved ones. Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA can provide you with aggressive legal representation against negligent medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies that do not adequately test or design their products. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA at (305) 694-2676, or contact us online. Someone is available to speak with you 24 hours a day.
What is an Inferior Vena Cava Filter?
An inferior vena cava filter, or IVC filter, is a medical device that is utilized to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs from other areas of the body, usually the legs. Blood clots form when your blood thickens and begins to clump together. An IVC filter is surgically implanted into the inferior vena cava, a large vein in the middle of your body that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower half of your body into the heart.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is one condition that an IVC filter is used to address. DVT is a blood clot that forms in a vein that is deep inside a person’s body, typically inside a vein located in a person’s thigh or lower leg. Your leg veins contain small valves that are supposed to help pump deoxygenated blood back towards your heart. However, if you have DVT, this will interfere with the function of these valves. DVT will cause these valves to lose strength and leak, which will then cause blood to pool inside your legs.
A person who develops DVT may suffer from various issues that negatively affect their health. For example, if you develop DVT, you can experience severe pain, inflammation, tenderness, and the sensation of tightness in the affected area. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately, especially if you have a history of blood clots.
The most serious concern about DVT is the possibility that the clot may break free and travel to your lungs. When a blood clot breaks off and sticks to a vessel in the lungs, this is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). Signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include:
- Sudden and severe shortness of breath
- Chest pain that may worsen if you breathe deeply, cough, eat, bend over, or exert yourself, with some people reporting symptoms similar to a heart attack
- Chronic coughing that may produce blood
If left untreated, a pulmonary embolism even has the potential to cause sudden death.
How an IVC Filter Works
To reiterate, the inferior vena cava is a large vein that brings deoxygenated blood from the lower level of your body to the heart. Next, the heart will pump that blood into your lungs to pick up oxygen. This is where the IVC filter comes in. The IVC filter is implanted in your inferior vena cava to catch blood clots and prevent them from reaching your heart and lungs. Ideally, this should stop DVT from developing into a pulmonary embolism.
To implant an IVC filter, the surgeon will make a small incision in a vein in your groin or neck. Next, the surgeon will place a flexible tube (catheter) into the open vein. The catheter that is inserted into your vein will contain a contracted IVC filter. Once the surgeon removes the catheter, the IVC filter should remain inside the vein. The filter should automatically expand and attach to the walls of your inferior vena cava. While the IVC filter is sometimes left inside the vein permanently, under certain circumstances, it may be removed after a certain amount of time.
It is important to note that an IVC filter is not designed to prevent DVT. However, an IVC filter is designed to help you avoid developing a pulmonary embolism if you have already been diagnosed with DVT.
Risk Factors for Developing Deep Vein Thrombosis
If you are highly at risk for deep vein thrombosis, your physician may recommend an IVC filter implant. A variety of risk factors may cause the movement of your blood to decrease and increase your chances of developing DVT, including:
- Undergoing cancer treatment
- Being an older adult
- Having a stroke
- Traveling long distances and being unable to occasionally move around to increase blood flow
- Suffering an injury to a vein deep inside your leg
- Inheriting a blood disorder that may increase clotting
You are also at risk for blood clotting if you had a recent surgical procedure and your mobility was affected, and certain areas of your body are swollen. However, this is not an exhaustive list. There are other risk factors that may also contribute to the likelihood of developing DVT.
How Dangerous Are IVC Filters?
There are various risks associated with the use of IVC filters. Some of these risks can cause a patient to suffer a serious or even fatal injury. Most of the risks associated with IVC filters can be divided into three categories: procedural risks, delayed risks, and retrieval risks.
Procedural risks usually mean that the patient suffered a serious injury while the IVC filter was being deployed. For example, if a surgeon does not exercise care, they may puncture a blood vessel while trying to implant the filter. Other procedural issues include:
- Incorrect placement of the filter
- Excessive bleeding or bruising at the site of the incision
Approximately 51% of IVC filter issues involve delayed complications like the migration or fracture of the filter. Early versions of IVC filters were usually created with titanium or stainless steel parts. Recently, IVC filters are being constructed with advanced alloys. However, newer filters have an increased chance of becoming dislodged and traveling through the bloodstream while perforating everything it touches. Additionally, filters made from alloy can be affected by a person’s body temperature, which may substantially alter the filter’s configuration. Other delayed complications that IVC filters have been shown to cause include:
- Severe chest pain
- Changes to your heart rhythm
- Increased chance of developing DVT or PE
Deaths and Injuries Caused by IVC Filters
Recovery complications can also cause a person to sustain severe or fatal injuries. According to a report by NBC Nightly News, C.R. Bard Inc., the manufacturer of the Recovery IVC filter, may have caused at least 27 deaths and over 300 injuries because of complications with their filter. C.R. Bard allegedly knew that their product may cause injury or death and still proceeded to sell over 34,000 units of their defective filter. Bard has since stopped selling the medical device, but thousands of people may still have the filter implanted in their body. If you are one of those people, you may have a claim against Bard.
According to a study published by the Journal of Vascular Surgery, temporary IVC filters that are left in place for a long period of time may cause more issues than permanent filters. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported over 146 cases where a retrievable filter broke and migrated toward a person’s heart. Other safety issues with retrievable filters include:
- Large blood clots becoming caught in the filter, which prevents removal
- Longer surgeries due to difficulty removing the filters
- Scars inside the vena cava, which also prevent removal
Filing an IVC Filter Lawsuit
Currently, approximately 8,500 lawsuits are pending in federal court against the producers of IVC filters. Plaintiffs are claiming a variety of injuries, such as heart and vein damage due to filter perforation, hemorrhaging, strokes, chest pain, and deaths. Many of these cases have been filed against C.R. Bard even though the company has discontinued some of its IVC filter products.
Other manufacturers that are being sued include Cook Medical, with over 3,826 cases pending against the company, and Boston Scientific, which is currently engaged in settlements for various cases. Due to a large number of lawsuits against these companies, multidistrict litigation (MDL) is being used. This means that hundreds of cases are being aggregated so that they can be adjudicated all at once.
Defective IVC Filter Lawsuit Lawyer Handling Injury Claims Nationwide
If you suffered a serious injury due to a defective IVC filter, or medical malpractice involving an IVC filter, you should contact an experienced IVC filter lawsuit lawyer for assistance. Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA can help you file a claim regarding an IVC filter injury or death. Prosper Shaked will work with you to understand your needs and offer legal representation uniquely tailored to you. To schedule a free legal consultation, call Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA at (305) 694-2676, or contact us online.