IVC filters: Not as safe as they seem

An IVC filter, also known as an inferior vena cava filter, is implanted into the IVC vein. This vein carries blood from the lower parts of the body to the heart. The goal of an implant like this is to prevent fatal lung clots from reaching the lungs. They may be used in patients who don’t respond well to or can’t use blood thinners. 

Unfortunately, both in 2010 and 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued safety warnings signaling that there had been complications with the IVC filtration devices. Some of the possible consequences include:

  • Trouble removing the device
  • Deep vein thrombosis in the lower veins
  • Inferior vena cava occlusion
  • Embolization
  • Blood vessel perforation
  • Device migration
  • Filter fracture

Unfortunately, many of these issues can become life-threatening if a patient doesn’t receive treatment right away. Today, it’s believed that these filters may be overused in patients, too. 

The bigger issue with these devices is that they aren’t always intended to be permanent. Once the risk of deep vein thrombosis subsides, many IVC filtration devices are supposed to be removed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that they were not always removed once patients were no longer at a high risk of an embolism. 

There’s no question that DVTs can be life-threatening to patients because it’s known that around 300,000 people die annually as a result of pulmonary embolisms. Still, patients with these devices implanted are not guaranteed freedom from complications. In some cases, patients have been badly hurt or killed as a result of the implant. You could be left with the need for additional surgery or end up with disabilities if the device fails or causes complications, which is something that you may want to discuss with your attorney.