If you had adverse effects from an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter that was left in place too long or malfunctioned, you likely have questions. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about IVC filter placement.
What is an IVC filter?
IVC filters are cone-shaped devices placed in the inferior vena cava near the kidney to prevent blood clots found in the veins in the legs and thighs from reaching the heart and lungs.1 The device is used in people who are at risk for these clots and are not receiving anticoagulants to prevent lethal pulmonary embolism.2,3
What are the guidelines for IVC filter placement and removal?
The organizations who make the guidelines for IVC filter placement recommend the devices for both patients with pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis who cannot receive anticoagulants and patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. Temporary devices are suspected of having more risk than permanent devices.
Temporary devices are supposed to be left in place for only 10 to 100 days, but in common practice they often go unremoved. The longer the IVC filters are left in, the less likely the doctors can remove them successfully.2,3
What are the risks of having an IVC filter?
Between 2005 and 2010, the FDA received more than 900 reports of unexpected risks associated with the use of IVC filters:
- Lower limb deep vein thrombosis
- IVC filter fracture
- IVC filter migration
- Embolization of the filter
- Perforation of the vena cava
In 2010, the FDA warned doctors to consider the risks and benefits of removing the devices for each patient.4
Where can I find patient education materials on IVC filters?
The health care institution or office of the doctor who implanted your IVC filter should have educational materials to help patients understand what the IVC filter is and why they need one, as well as the risks associated with its placement. An example of such materials is available from Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
How can I find legal advice about IVC filters?
If you have had an IVC filter fracture or other health problems because of an IVC filter, a personal injury attorney can answer your questions and determine whether you have a case.