IVC Filters have been used to help prevent blood clots after surgery or trauma. There are both temporary and permanent versions of this device. Most medical opinion is that the temporary styles are preferred, used only for about 2 weeks to 3 months time. One reason many doctors use IVC Filters is because their patient cannot use normal anticoagulant medicines to thin the blood and help to reduce or eliminate blood clotting problem. Most IVC Filters are removed at some time. This is planned for with the temporary styles; permanent IVC Filters may require removal if they deteriorate or fracture. In some cases, this can only be done with surgery.
IVC Filter Removal
When an IVC Filter is removed, the simplest method is just a reversal of the insertion procedure. When inserted, the IVC Filter is compressed and inserted into a thin catheter. The catheter is then injected into a large vein, usually in the neck jugular vein or a large groin vein. It is pushed into the desired place, and the IVC Filter is ejected into place and the catheter removed. The device has small hooks at the end of each thin metal leg. This claw-like hook adheres to the vein wall, thus keeping the IVC Filter in place. The filter expands, as it is a cone-shaped structure that functions like a tiny strainer, able to capture any blood clots that attempt to pass by. It is important to stop the clots from progressing further into the heart or lungs or other organs that could be damaged by a clot buildup.
The thin metal construction of the IVC Filter can present problems on its own, especially if fragments are broken off and then move along with the blood to sensitive critical organs. Fragments of metal are sharp shards, and they can pierce a vein, the heart or cause problems in lungs or the digestive track. If this happens, it is necessary to remove the IVC Filter and also to remove any fragments. Surgery may be required if fragments are lodged in organs or the vein.
When IVC Filter removal is necessary or timely, a reverse process is used. The cage-like filter has a special hook at the top end that can be snared for removal purposes. The device is again pulled back into a thin catheter that has been inserted into the vein for this job. The device is manipulated via the catheter until it is free from the vein. If the metal legs of the filter have been in place too long, the cells of the vein wall may have grown around it, which would then be a situation requiring surgical removal.
IVC Filter Characteristics
IVC Filters are extremely delicate, light-weight and thin. Most are made of non-ferromagnetic materials, so the patient can have an MRI without problems resulting from the metal, especially if the procedure is done at least six weeks after filter implantation. Those problems may include rotation of the filter, sheering or dislodging of fragments due to the MRI magnetic forces. Some IVC Filters, although rarely found, are weakly magnetic and patients with those units should not have an MRI procedure. An alternative to an MRI would be to do a CT scan. The thin legs of the IVC Filter may have compression springs included that expand outward to the vena cava side walls when released.
IVC Filter Removal Risks
IVC Filters are generally removed when the risk of blood clots is reduced or over. It could be replaced with blood thinning medications if there still is any risk of clotting. There may be bleeding that occurs during the removal process, which could cause problems for the patient if not controlled. Infections are another potential hazard from removal, and a patient may have an allergic reaction to the contrast material injected to guide the radiologist.
There are many risks that could occur during removal:
- If the device does not work properly as designed for removal, there could be tearing or puncturing of the vein.
- If the IVC Filter has changed its position, removal may not be possible; other procedures or surgery may be required to accomplish retrieval.
- Removal of the filter may eliminate the long term risks a patient would have if it is left in place.
- This procedure does not affect the core cause of any deep vein thrombosis or blood clotting.
- If the IVC Filter is damaged and releases loose material into the blood flow, particles could reach the heart or lungs and cause severe injury or death.
- If a removable filter is scarred and completely attached to the vein, this could prevent removal.
- If the filter is filled with many clots, it could block blood flow and result in leg swelling.
IVC Filter Lawsuits
Hundreds of people have been harmed by IVC Filter use, and some have died. The device originated around 1967, but FDA approval for removable IVC Filters did not occur until 2004. The FDA issued warnings in 2010 and updated warnings in 2014. Class-action lawsuits were filed in 2012 in Philadelphia, Indiana and California, and another was filed in Arizona in 2015. Several people have filed individual lawsuits and gained settlements from manufacturers. There are multiple manufacturers that have been sued, but the two primary ones are C. R. Bard and Cook Medical.
IVC Filter Attorney
If you believe you have been injured or had a loved one die following IVC Filter removal, contact an experienced legal professional to provide guidance and representation for your case. Start with a free consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney who has served other clients who experienced similar events for best results. You deserve compensation when your life is affected by harm due to negligence. Act quickly, because time limits for filing a lawsuit may be near. We have all the information you need to determine the right course of legal action for your needs, including participation in a class-action lawsuit if one is available. Call our IVC Filter Attorney today to get started.