Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filters have been used to help prevent blood clots for many decades. The original IVC Filters were surgically implanted and permanent, but many modern versions are inserted into a large neck or groin vein using a thin catheter for placement within the vein. Today, current models are designed to be either left in permanently or removed after a short time.
Types of IVC Filters
There are two basic types of IVC Filters in use, either permanent or retrievable. Each type has the same function: prevention of harm from blood clots. They both are designed to catch loose clots and hold them so they cannot travel further to the heart, lung, brain or other organs and potentially cause death. When they do capture a clot, that clot eventually is dissolved by natural anticoagulants that are in the blood. In addition to that process, clot dissolution can be hastened by use of anticoagulant medicines, like Warfarin or Heparin, in patients who can tolerate those drugs. IVC Filters are frequently used following surgery or trauma, when blood clots can often become a problem.
There have been very few clinical studies of IVC Filters that indicate use of these devices will significantly improve lifespan. The IVC Filter is a type of blood thinner, in that they remove clots from the blood stream. IVC Filters are an alternative to anticoagulant drugs, but using those medicines are the preferred method for treating deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) patients. IVC Filters are recommended for use in patients who are prone to clotting but cannot take available anticoagulant drug therapy. If there is no problem taking anticoagulants, the patient who receives and IVC Filter may also be prescribed anticoagulants concurrently.
IVC Filter Manufacturers
It is estimated that approximately 49,000 IVC Filters are used each year in America. The Mobin-Uddin system was introduced to the medical community in 1969. Prior to this, the conventional practice for addressing prevention of pulmonary embolism (PE) was to clip the inferior vena cava or perform surgery on the femoral vein. This occurred earlier in the 1930s and 1940s, but these procedures were ineffective and had a high rate of post-op morbidity. Since the introduction of IVC Filters, there has been only one controlled study to rate their effectiveness for reduction of thrombosis and few other clinical studies.
In 1973, Boston Scientific//Meditech introduced a steel Greenfield IVC Filter, and then a titanium revision. Other manufacturers producing IVC Filters include: Cook Medical, C.R. Bard, B. Braun, Cordis, Rafael Medical Technologies, ALN Implants and Rex Medical. Familiar brand name permanent IVC Filters include: Simon Nitinol Filter, Vena Tech LGM and LP vena cava filters, Greenfield (stainless steel or titanium), Gianturco-Roehm Bird’s Nest filter, TrapEase and SafeFlo. Retrievable filters include: ALN, Recovery, G2 and G2 X, and Eclipse, Günther Tulip and Celect, OptEase and Option.
IVC Filter Complications
One of the first complications patients may encounter when using an IVC Filter is bleeding before or after insertion of the device. There may be bruising or bleeding at the point of insertion. If the vein is punctured during insertion of the filter, that causes bleeding and may also generate clots. IVC Filters are generally effective for immediate prevention of PE, but their use is only good for a limited time, after which anticoagulant therapy is preferred. Studies show that patients showed no difference in a 2-year mortality rate when use of the filters was compared to non-use of filters.
Other problems can occur during placement of the device. There are small hooks at the end of each thin metal leg. These claws catch on the vein wall, securing the device in place. There could be some bleeding at these attachment points, or the device could rotate after placement and become problematic. If the device migrates beyond the point of placement, it could cause harm or death.
Since the device is so tiny and made of metal, there is the possibility that the metal could break off into shard-like fragments. These can flow in the blood stream to harm organs like the heart or lungs. A wound could result in serious bleeding or failure of the organ and death. The metal also can be a challenge if an MRI is required. Most IVC Filters are made of non-ferromagnetic metal but some are not. Patients that have those devices should only have a CT scan, and not an MRI. The magnetic force of an MRI could displace the filter or cause breakage to metal parts.
IVC Filter Lawsuits
In recent years, several class-action lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers of IVC Filters. Since 2012, class-action lawsuits were filed in California, Indiana, Philadelphia and Arizona, and other individual lawsuits elsewhere. Most cite C.R. Bard and Cook Medical as defendants, and charges include negligence and failure to warn consumers of danger. It is alleged that the manufacturer Bard knew of the dangers prior to 2004, but kept that knowledge secret and did not alert the public. In 2012, lawsuits against manufacturer Cook Medical were consolidated into multi-district litigation in Indiana. There were around 100 lawsuits pending, with many remaining open. In 2015, Bard settled with one plaintiff shortly after the trial started.
Lawsuit claims included:
- Negligence, misrepresentation
- Failure to warn consumers
- Device migration and fracturing
- Pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of consortium, loss of normal lifestyle
- Lost wages
- Disability, impairment, disfigurement
IVC Filter Attorney
When things go wrong with a product and it fails to perform as promised, causes bodily harm, emotional trauma or death, the wronged parties can file a lawsuit to recover fair monetary compensation for claims related to that event. For this type of lawsuit, consult with an experienced Personal Injury Attorney for best results. They understand the details of state and federal laws that apply to your case, and they have the knowledge and skills needed to present a winning case for settlement or litigation. If you are eligible for any class-action lawsuits involving that product, they will help you become part of the action. Personal Injury cases generally are accepted on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing when your case is won, other than a few small office fees.
When negligent behavior affects and disrupts your life or harms a loved one, you deserve fair compensation. Your best choice is an attorney with a winning track record in the area of law that regulates your case. Our Personal Injury Attorney has helped many others who suffered harm from IVC Filters. Begin now, with a free consultation to discuss your concerns in confidence with this compassionate legal professional.