IVC Filters and Cardiac Tamponade
Permanent IVC filters with the option to retrieve, first emerged on the market in the early 2000s. Although the concept of a removable filter was first developed in the late 1960s, they were not marketed and sold until 2003 and 2004. Prior to that, surgeons had been using permanent IVC filters, which could not be removed. Unfortunately, permanent IVC filters with the option to retrieve often end up causing a multitude of adverse effects, some of which are deadly.
Why do Permanent IVC Filters with the Option to Retrieve Cause Problems?
Permanent IVC filters with the option to retrieve are designed to be optionally removable. They are implanted in patients who are at high risk for blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. The filters feature a small hook on the end and legs which are tiny metal wires intended to catch blood clots. The hook is used by surgeons to snare the filter and remove it once the risk for blood clots has been reduced.
Unfortunately, many IVC filters end up causing injury. The longer the device is left in the body, the more likely it is to tilt, fracture, and dislodge. When this happens, other complications occur, including puncturing of vital veins and organs, migration to other parts of the body, and other dangerous events.
Additional Problems from Filter Fracturing and Migration
In some cases, components of the device can break off and become lodged in the heart. When this happens, it can lead to further health problems like pulmonary effusion and cardiac tamponade. Both of these issues are indicated by excess fluid around the heart, but cardiac tamponade is the result of the fluid causing pressure on the heart, eventually compressing it to dangerous proportions.
Example of Cardiac Tamponade from a Fractured IVC Filter
In 2010, this very thing happened to a 53 year old man. The man presented at the emergency room five hours after experiencing a sudden onset of severe chest pain. His medical history indicated that he had been implanted with a Bard G2 IVC filter, one of the specific devices known to cause problems.
After being treated with a cardiac catheter to drain the fluids, a subsequent fluoroscopy found that a small fragment of the IVC filter had broken off and was lodged in his right ventricle, extending through the outer lining of his heart.
The broken piece had caused increased blood pressure, buildup of fluid around his heart, and cardiac tamponade. The patient was forced to undergo open heart surgery, in which surgeons manually untangled and removed the broken metal piece. Doctors found that the reason the IVC filter broke was “metal fatigue.”
Filter Migration Happens Far Too Often
Unfortunately, filter migration is very common. One study found that out of 80 patients who had Bard G2 or Recovery implant, 16% of them had at least one strut fracture. 7 out of the 28 patients with the Recovery filter had a fractured and detached strut. The average time the patients had these devices in their bodies ranged between 717 to 1,498 days. In 2014, the FDA re-released their warnings about IVC devices, strongly suggesting that they be removed within 29-54 days of implantation if the patient’s transient risk for pulmonary embolism has passed.
Defective Devices and IVC Filter Lawsuits
Currently, manufacturers of the permanent IVC filters with the option to retrieve are facing thousands of lawsuits from patients all over the U.S. Most of the cases are based on defective device manufacturing and claims of failure to warn. Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is a personal injury law firm that has a concentration in IVC filter cases. Contact us today to discuss your options for litigation.