Product Liability

Complications of an IVC Filter

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, which prevent blockage of arteries leading to the lungs, can cause both short-term and long-term complications. There are many adverse outcomes which may occur both during and after the placement of the filter. It is important that doctors place the filters carefully and monitor patients for long-term issues.

Reported complications

In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration published a statement summarizing the adverse event reports it had received about IVC filters since 2005. The incidents included:1

  • 328 device migration incidents
  • 146 incidents where device components became detached
  • 70 incidents where the IVC filter was perforated
  • 56 filter fracture incidents

Several sources cite many complications with these filters. The complications include:2,3,4,5,6

  • Death
  • Migration of the device (sometimes into the chest or heart)
  • Blood clotting at the insertion site
  • Detachment of device components
  • Fracture of the filter
  • Perforation of the vena cava (a part of the heart)
  • Recurrent blood clotting within deep veins
  • Recurrent blockage of arteries leading to the lungs
  • Blood clotting complications
  • Blood clotting within the vena cava
  • Arterial hemorrhage
  • Perforation of the small intestine

With such a long list of potential complications, it is not surprising that using IVC filters is a subject of debate. An article from the National Institutes of Health database says attention to detail, careful use of guide wires and use of imaging can help prevent insertion-related complications.7

Legal resources

If you have experienced complications due to IVC filter insertion, you should know that this is a controversial procedure. You may be able to pursue legal action if you believe medical professionals have not handled the surgery responsibly or informed you about its risks. You can contact a personal injury attorney for more information about IVC filter lawsuits.

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