Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are used to prevent pulmonary embolism (PE) in people who have or are at risk for developing blood clots in the legs or pelvis. If a blood clot moves to the lungs, the results can be fatal. When an IVC filter performs properly, it can be a lifesaving device. Retrievable IVC filters should be removed when the risk of PE has passed. A defective IVC filter can cause serious or fatal complications.
What is an IVC Filter?
An IVC filter is a tiny cone-shaped device that looks like a metal cage. It is placed in the large vein in the abdomen that returns blood to the heart from the lower body. This vein is called the inferior vena cava. It is used to trap blood clots and prevent them from moving to the lungs and heart in people with a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
DVT occurs when blood clots develop in the legs or pelvis. If those clots, or large pieces of them break off and travel to the heart or lungs, they can cause severe complications or death.
Who Needs an IVC Filter?
An IVC filter is not the right solution for everyone with DVT or at risk for the condition. They are used in people who cannot take anticoagulant drugs and in cases where the drugs have not been effective.
Retrievable IVC filters are typically used when there is a temporary risk of DVT, due to an accidental injury, surgery or other medical treatments. Examples include:
- Car accidents
- Spinal injuries
- Gunshot wounds
- Emergency surgery
- Elective surgery
- Kidney dialysis
- Cancer treatment
IVC Filter Complications
IVC filter complications can include:
- Device migration
- Device fracture
- Embolism – device or pieces of the device moving to the heart or lungs
- Peroration of the vein in which the filter was placed
- Perforation of adjacent organs
- Difficulty removing the filter
Long-term risks of IVC filter include:
- Occlusion of the IVC
IVC filter complications can be fatal.
In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication recommending that removal of retrievable IVC filters should be considered as soon as the risk of PE has passed. According to the FDA, mathematical models suggest that if the danger of PE has passed the best time to remove an IVC filter is between 29 and 54 days after it was implanted.
If you have concerns or questions about IVC Filters or believe you have been harmed, call us toll-free at 800-DRUG-411 (800-378-4411) or email us. We will help you find answers to your questions and we can help you find an attorney who represents injured victims.