IVC (inferior vena cava) filters are designed to catch blood clots in patients before they reach the lungs. The IVC or Inferior Vena Cava filter, is a very small device implanted by surgeons to stop migrating blood clots. They’re used as a last resort for patients who cannot take blood thinners to reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism.
Newly inserted IVC filters can have crossed, tangled and overlapping legs & arms (also known has limbs, struts and tines). The filter does not expand and instead dangerously migrates to the renal arteries, pulmonary arteries, the right atrium, tricuspid valve, heart, kidney and liver. This requires extra surgeries known as “percutaneous” (through the vein) and “open removal” (surgery through the blood vessel).
IVC filters are spider-like metal devices implanted by catheter through the leg (femoral) or neck (jugular) veins. Filters are constrained in a capsule and pop open in the vein when released from the catheter. However, the packing and design of the filter can result in the filter’s legs and arms crossing, entangling and twisting. Alternatively, inserting doctors may do something incorrectly. Instead of filters opening in place, they travel to other organs.
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If you or someone you know has suffered from complications of an IVC filter, contact the New York product liability lawyers at Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP for help exploring your legal options.
There are various medical journal reports of IVC filter migration to the heart, lung, kidney and liver. The FDA has also reported cases where the filter did not open and traveled to the heart.
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There are a number of manufacturers, but the most prominent in litigation now are C.R. Bard and Cook Medical. Their products which account for the vast majority of the market share include:
There are other filters which have also shown defects and failure rates above safe levels. These include:
Permanent IVC filters have been used for decades with few complications. Since 2003, retrievable/temporary IVC filters have been gaining popularity. Unbeknownst to many of the patients installed with these models, there have been many more complications with the temporary retrievable filters as compared to the permanent ones. Complications for the retrievable IVC filters include:
The purpose of using a retrievable IVC filter is so that it can be removed once it is no longer needed. The FDA issued a safety statement in May 2014 stating that patients may face an increased risk of complications with IVC filters the longer they remain inserted. The FDA advised doctors that the ideal time for removal is between 29 days and 54 days after implantation. Unfortunately, the retrieval process can cause complications such as device fracture.
Doctors known as “interventional radiologists” insert IVC filters using various wires and a catheter. From a capsule loaded by the filter manufacturer, the doctor pushes the filter to the implantation site. The covering catheter is slowly pulled back and the filter is released, hopefully, to spring open and lodge into the blood vessel.
A doctor’s technique must follow the implantation instructions. Some filter deployment systems should not be twisted or retracted in certain ways. However, if the filter has tangled legs due to poor design or packaging, there is little a skilled doctor can do.
A review of medical records, x-rays, and the venogram (a live X-ray with contrast material injected into the blood vessel) helps investigate the cause of the filter failure. A law firm experienced in medical malpractice and product liability cases, and their hired independent medical experts, can do this.
Blood vessel walls expand and constrict to keep blood moving. Because of this, IVC filters can migrate up or down due to vessel expansion and contraction. Filters have barbs known as anchors to impede movement. These barbs face up and down (“caudal” and “cranial”). When compacted into the deployment capsule, these barbs entangle the legs.
While no one can undo permanent damage done by an injury, a lawsuit can help the victim and their family recover losses and receive the medical treatment they deserve in the future. Our skilled New York attorneys are dedicated to investigating the cause of these injuries and doing whatever is necessary to make sure the offending products are kept away from innocent people.
If you or someone you know has suffered from complications of an IVC filter, contact Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP today to explore your legal options.