Lawsuits are mounting over injuries allegedly caused by inferior vena cava (IVC) filters. Plaintiffs allege, among other things, that complications from the cage-like device resulted in difficult retrievable. In some cases, plaintiffs say that the severity of complications made it so that the IVC filter can no longer be removed, forcing them to taking blood thinners for the rest of their lives. C.R. Bard, Cook Medical and Boston Scientific are facing IVC filter lawsuits.
IVC filters are meant to catch blood clots before they reach the heart and lungs, leading to a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism. They are often selected as treatment when patients are unable to take oral anticoagulants. The filter is placed in the inferior vena cava, the major vein bringing blood from the lower body to the heart. Some IVC filters are designed to be permanent, while others are retrievable. The litigation focuses on retrievable IVC filters.
Alleged injuries from IVC filters include filter migration, where the plaintiff alleges that the device moved from its original location in the IVC. Other cases allege that the filter broke and caused subsequent complications such as organ or blood vessel damage.
In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication saying it received over 900 adverse event reports related to IVC filters; 300 involved device migration, 70 involved perforation of the surrounding tissue and more than 50 said the filter fractured.
The agency issued another alert in 2014 warning of complications when retrievable IVC filters are left long-term. The alert noted “Types of reports include device migration, filter fracture, embolization (movement of the entire filter or fracture fragments to the heart or lungs), perforation of the IVC, and difficulty removing the device. Some of these events led to adverse clinical outcomes.” The FDA also noted reports of lower limb deep vein thrombosis and IVC occlusion.
In April 2013, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine examined complications, anticoagulant use and other factors among patients with IVC filters. Researchers examined medical records from 978 patients, including 679 retrievable IVC filters. The authors wrote “Our research suggests that the use of IVC filters for prophylaxis and treatment of venous thrombotic events, combined with a low retrieval rate and inconsistent use of anticoagulant therapy, results in suboptimal outcomes due to high rates of venous thromboembolism.”