Defective IVC Filters
For patients who suffer from blood clots, IVC filters can be a lifesaver. A variety of medical conditions can cause blood clots in veins, especially in the lower body. While the conditions vary, the result is known as deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis can result from medical problems that cause blood clots, such as phlebitis. In addition, DVT can be the result of more common things like remaining seated for long periods of time, accidents, long period of bedrest, or surgery.
DVT is a serious condition, as blood clots can break free and lodge in your lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism, or travel to your heart and restrict blood flow. These events can be fatal. Often, doctors use IVC filters to combat these problems. IVC filters intercept blood clots before they reach the heart or lungs, thus preventing potentially fatal conditions.
Unfortunately, IVC filters can fail and result in problems potentially as dangerous as the problems the filters were designed to combat. If you have been the victim of a defective IVC filter, contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling (404) 255-6677 or through our online contact form. We can help you determine whether you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries.What is an IVC Filter and Why Do I Have One?
IVC filters are blood filters that are placed in the inferior vena cava, a major vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart, hence the name. An IVC filter resembles a small wire basket or spider web and typically is implanted just below the kidneys. The filter is intended to catch blood clots that break free from veins in the lower body and prevent them from travelling to the lungs or heart, where they can cause serious complications, including death.
IVC filters typically are placed in people who, for various reasons, are at risk of a pulmonary embolism. Risk factors for blood clots leading to pulmonary embolisms include:
- You have a history of blood clots in the veins of your pelvis and legs
- You have previously had a pulmonary embolism
- You have a health condition that indicates a higher risk of blood clots in your lower body. These conditions can include a history of having blood clots in the veins of your lower body, a family history of such blood clots, or long periods of confinement to bed.
- You have undergone surgery recently
- You routinely sit for long periods of time
While these risk factors often are treated with blood-thinning medication - either by injection, intravenous administration or in pill form - sometimes your doctor will determine that blood thinners either will not work for you or will not be safe. Blood thinners also are not appropriate if you are scheduled to undergo surgery in the near future. Under those circumstances, blood thinners could lead to excessive bleeding during surgery.What Are the Risks of an IVC Filter?
Implanting an IVC filter is a quick, easy, and safe procedure often performed on an outpatient basis. Complications after insertion of the filter are rare, happening in less than 1 percent of IVC filter insertions. The leading causes of complications with IVC filters are when the filter fills with blood clots and when the filter moves (known as migrating) or fragments, releasing pieces of the wire filter into the bloodstream. Most patients have no symptoms even if the filter fills will blood clots, and likewise most patients have no problems if the filter moves a little. However, both events can lead to serious complications. In rare instances, the filter can migrate to a location in the body where it could cause serious problems, such as the heart.
The greatest risk associated with IVC filters is filter fragmentation. This is when an IVC filter suffers a structural failure and breaks apart. This can send pieces of the filter into the bloodstream, which can result in organ penetration, including penetration of the heart or lungs. These complications can be serious, and even fatal. According to one report, at least 27 deaths have been linked to IVC filter failures, as well as about 300 non-fatal complications in the last 10 years.
It is important to note that there are two kinds of IVC filters - permanent and retrievable. Retrievable IVC filters, known as RIVCFs, are supposed to be removed when the risk of pulmonary embolism from migrating blood clots has passed. In the vast majority of cases, the RIVCFs are left in place long after the medical need for them has passed, and many are left in place permanently. Federal statistics indicate that removal rates for RIVCFs are as low as 8.5 percent. Further, while filter fragmentation incidence overall if low, at about 1 to 2 percent, it is the most commonly reported IVC complication.
There is a dramatic difference between permanent and retrievable IVC filters, though, with permanent filters involved in significantly fewer filter fragmentation failures. While only 13 percent of filter failures -- including device fracture, filter migration, higher risk of deep vein thrombosis, and penetration of organs by filter fragments - involve permanent IVCs, 87 percent of such failures involve RIVCFs. The RIVCF devices are not meant to be left in the body permanently, and federal studies indicate that the increased dwell time is directly associated with device failures. Failure to retrieve an RIVCF often is a result of poor clinical follow-up. In other words, it is possible your doctors failed to determine whether the risk of pulmonary embolism had passed and removed the filter accordingly, instead leaving the RIVCF in place.Call Us Today to Speak to an Atlanta IVC Filer Lawyer
If you have been injured by a defective IVC filter, you should consult with an attorney. You might be able to recover damages. Contact the experienced medical device attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling (404) 255-6677. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta. You also can reach us through our online contact form.