Blood clots can develop in the veins of the leg or pelvis. These clots (known as deep vein thrombosis1) sometimes break up. Pieces of the clot can then travel to and cause a blockage in the lungs (pulmonary embolism). When this occurs, the clot particles may cause serious injury or death. An inferior vena cava filter (or IVC filter) can help prevent this. There is, however, some risk of IVC filter complications.
Certain patients will benefit from an IVC filter
Surgeons may place an IVC filter in a patient2 who has a history of or is at risk of developing blood clots. A number of different types of patients are at risk including:
- Patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Trauma victims
- People who are immobile
- Anyone who has recently had surgery or delivered a baby
- Patients with pulmonary embolus
Doctors will often try other methods of treating patients first before opting to place an IVC filter.
IVC filter surgery procedure
A specialist may fit a retrievable IVC filter on an outpatient basis. The procedure3 is minimally invasive. A specially trained radiologist will usually perform the IVC filter insertion, either in a radiology suite or an operating room. Patients normally receive a moderate sedative, although a general anesthetic is also possible. A small cut is made in the skin where the catheter is to be inserted. The radiologist will then insert the catheter through the skin to the site of treatment. The IVF filter is then placed in the blood vessel. The radiologist removes the catheter and dresses the opening in the skin. Patients do not need sutures. IVC filter surgery normally takes around an hour.
Potential complications during IVC filter surgery
Like any other surgical procedure, there are potential complications from IVC filter surgery. Patients may have an allergic reaction to local anesthetic or X-ray dye. Heavy bleeding is possible, and you may need medicine or a blood transfusion to treat this. During the IVC filter insertion, the radiologist may perforate a vein. This may require further emergency surgery. The IVC filter may also shift following the surgery. This would require further treatment, where the radiologist would capture and reposition the device.
What to do if you suffer IVC filter complications
If you or a loved one suffers an injury during IVC filter surgery, you may be able to file a lawsuit. IVC filter injuries may incur medical expenses, lead to lost wages and incur pain and suffering. A trained attorney will be able to help you understand whether you are able to file a lawsuit. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following an injury, as you may have a limited amount of time in which to file the lawsuit.