Types of IVC Filters

IVC filters have been around for a long time. Originally, they were designed for permanent emplacement in the vein, but that was problematic because when people had issues with those, they had difficulty retrieving them. A lot of people have conditions where they are only at risk for pulmonary embolism for a limited period of time, such as when they are laid up after an accident or surgery.

This created a need for filters that could be placed temporarily and then retrieved once the threat of pulmonary embolism had passed. That is what retrievable IVC filters are designed for. They are designed with hooks at the top of them so that the filter can be grabbed and retrieved after the risk of pulmonary embolism has passed. While both retrievable and permanent IVC filters can be very useful, they can also both create complications that may require a lawsuit. In these situations an IVC filter lawyer can help to address the damages.

Permanent IVC Filters

Permanent filters are predecessors to the retrievable filters and they operate on the same principles, they look very similar although they do not have hooks at the top for retrieval, but they look the same and they operate in the same manner. Permanent filters are also implanted by essentially the same procedure as temporary filters.

Some people who have chronic problems with embolisms may receive a permanent filter. However, doctors are using a lot more of the retrievable filters now, because it at least gives the option of being either permanent or retrievable depending on what the patient’s condition suggests.

Dangers Associated With a Permanent IVC Filter

Permanent IVC filters have the potential to cause all of the problems associated with retrievable filters. Some literature suggests that they do not in fact suffer from the same failure rates, that they fail less frequently, but at the same time, some of them will fail and that is what brought about the market for retrievable filters.

Retrievable IVC Filters

IVC filters are indicated for use with people who have pulmonary thromboembolism when anticoagulants are contraindicated. Common uses would be for people are at risk of embolism due to surgery or accidents where they are laid out for a period of time. If they cannot be treated with anticoagulants for any reason, or if anticoagulant therapy has failed and they are still having clots, then IVC filters are indicated for use there. It is also used for people with deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, where they have the likelihood of producing blood clots that could embolize. It may also be used—although it may or may not be indicated— for people who are going in for bariatric surgery and other surgeries where they are put in prophylactically to prevent or to catch any clots that may result from the surgery. Those are really the most common scenarios where they are placed.

Dangers of Retrievable IVC Filters

Some dangers with retrievable IVC filters involve tilt, perforation, penetration, migration, filter fracture, or embolizing of the filter, struts, or pieces from the filter. Bard or Cook’s own literature actually include long lists of potential complications, including that the filters may clog once they capture blood clots or they may actually increase the likelihood of pulmonary embolism. Internal hemorrhage would be another possible issue. There are lots of potential complications.

Litigation does not generally focus on improper removal. However, filters that break up during the removal procedure, or filters that are so deeply embedded that they simply cannot be removed, can cause other complications secondary to the retrieval surgery, but those are not necessarily a result of the surgery itself. In a sense, these complications are a result of the filter because if the filter was not having problems, if it had not, for example, embedded or fractured, then the removal procedure would be very simple. But the removal procedures themselves are complicated by the problems with the filters.