Injuries from IVC Filters

An IVC filter is a small cage or basket-like device that is inserted in the inferior vena cava (IVC) for the purpose of anchoring there and catching blood clots, while still allowing blood flow through the filter.

In these cases, it is imperative to contact an experienced IVC filter lawyer to ensure that an individual is receiving the compensation he or she deserves for his or her injury. These types of injuries can hugely impact a person’s life, and retaining an attorney will allow him or her to focus on recovering.

Progression of Issues That Can Result 

They do not always occur in this order, but we do see change in the balance of the device. It will progress from a tilt, which is when the filter has tilted over, to parts of the filter that are not designed to come into contact with the vein coming into contact and endothelializing, or growing into, the vein. The device growing into the vein causes embedding, which makes retrieval of the device difficult or impossible.

Embedding leads to perforation, which has all of these associated problems described. Separate from these described problems, although usually antecedent, is filter fracture or filter migration, which poses its own set of problems including embolization of the struts.

Types of Injuries Due to IVC Filters

IVC filters can result in a whole range of different types of injuries, from simply an individual’s mental anguish of knowing that they have a defective device permanently embedded in them that they were told would be temporary, all the way to an individual’s death as a result of the device. One of the most common injuries is a lump forming at the location of filter insertion.

Pulmonary Embolisms

On one end of the spectrum, sometimes the injury is simply that a person has a filter that he or she was told would be retrievable, but later learns that it is not retrievable. It is a filter that poses a threat in some circumstances, to actually fostering or creating pulmonary embolisms, which is the very problem it was designed to prevent. Individuals in this situation then have to live the rest of their lives knowing that they have this device permanently implanted in them, but they never intended it. They also know that at any time the device have problems, like fracture or perforate, and can cause all of the associated injuries.

Cardiac Issues

On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who had sudden cardiac death, heart attacks, tamponade, or swelling of the heart because struts have migrated and pierced their heart or pierced their lung.

Perforation of IVC

Injuries that can result from IVC filters would include perforation of the inferior vena cava. The perforation of the inferior vena cava can cause complications, such as threatening adjacent organs, vessels, and structures, which includes, piercing the spine, piercing the aorta, piercing other veins, or even piercing other internal organs.

Piercing Renal Vein

There has been a case where a defendant’s IVC filter pierced their renal vein, which in turn created internal bleeding, ultimately causing sepsis. IVC filters can cause all sorts of the same problems one might expect when an internal organ is punctured, which is internal bleeding, organ damage, and associated problems.

Expected Side Effects and Complications

The expected side effects and the complications reviewed before surgery depends on the doctor and the patient. The literature provided by the manufacturers, at least at some point in time, would have included some of the complications discussed above.

On the other hand, today, the literature would most likely include all of the complications discussed that are different from what a doctor will tell a patient.

Often when the doctor is performing the surgery, the complications or the warnings that the patient receives are incidental to surgery, such as the risk of infection, the risk of a cut during the procedure, the risk of anesthesia problems, and the sorts of things that someone would be warned of with any surgery that are not necessarily particular to the defects in the filters.

Filing a Claim When Aware of the Risks of an IVC Filter

In some states, as soon as a person knows they have an injury associated with a product, they have a certain number of years to file a lawsuit and if that time period is passed, they can no longer do so.

Other states require that a person have knowledge that the injury was associated with negligence or defects. A lot of people are told by their doctors that there is an issue with their IVC, or that their filter cannot be retrieved, but they do not necessarily know that that is a result of the filter being defective or any negligence on the part of the manufacturer, so they may not know that they have a legal claim.

In some states, an individual would have a claim until they learn they have a legal claim, but in other states, they would be time barred. There are also statutes of repose that say if a product is implanted on a given date, 10 years out, 12 years out, or whatever the time period may be, they are not allowed to bring the lawsuit anymore, no matter what they knew. Often people were not told for 10 or so years that their filter had a problem. And even though they never knew of a problem, they may have a time bar based on the statutes of repose. That is why it is important for people to contact a lawyer as soon as they hear of an issue.

Proving That an Injury Was Caused by IVC Filter

In device litigation, unlike a pharmaceutical drug litigation, the cause of injuries is much more obvious. The injuries are patent. If someone goes to have a CT scan and they have a strut from an IVC filter piercing their aorta, it is clear that the filter that is causing the injury. It can become a little more attenuated if it is someone with recurrent DVT or pulmonary embolisms who is having those problems. In that case, it can be a little more difficult to determine whether that is just the underlying condition, or if it is being exacerbated by the filter. All of those things are really case specific.

A lawyer can evaluate the legal claim and find out to the best of the their ability whether there is a need to file a lawsuit.