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Blood clots are scary for everyone. I recall when I was younger, my father having issues with them in the hospital, and the list of what could happen if the clots were untreated left me sick to my stomach. If you haven’t suffered from a blood clotting issue, and you are like me, you probably assumed that all blood clots are the same. As it turns out, this is not true. Per the Cleveland Clinic, blood clots within the deep veins of the upper and lower extremities and pelvis are termed Deep Venous Thromboses or DVTs. While DVTs are not, in themselves, life-threatening, the condition can become deadly if the blood clot travels to the lungs and becomes a pulmonary embolism or PE, interrupting normal blood flow to the lungs.
For most people, the way a blood clot is initially treated is by way of blood thinners. This is fresh in my mind because I follow NASCAR racing, and a driver was sidelined because of his issues with blood clots. He was treated with blood thinners and was not allowed to race because of fear of injury. Essentially, a blood thinner, while good for treating blood clot issues, can cause excessive bleeding if you are injured. In this case, a race car driver, who is at high risk for injury, probably shouldn’t be allowed to race while taking blood thinners.
For individuals with reoccurring blood clots, or for those who don’t find success with a blood thinner, an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter may be used instead. Since I don’t have a medical background, I am going to let the folks from the Cleveland Clinic explain how this works. An IVC filter is a small metal device designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs. The filter is placed in the inferior vena cava (the large vein that takes blood back to the heart) typically just below the kidneys using a catheter type deployment device.
That description can be confusing. So, think of an IVC filter like a car’s engine oil filter. The oil filter is in place between the oil reservoir and the oil supply to the engine. The oil filter prevents particles and contaminants from making their way into the engine to harm vital parts. This is similar to how an IVC filter prevents blood clots from harming the lungs or heart.
In recent years, issues with IVC filters have become prevalent the FDA issued the following regarding the defective filters:
Since 2005, the FDA has received 921 device adverse event reports involving IVC filters, of which 328 involved device migration, 146 involved embolizations (detachment of device components), 70 involved perforation of the IVC, and 56 involved filter fracture. Some of these events led to adverse clinical outcomes in patients. These types of events may be related to a retrievable filter remaining in the body for long periods of time, beyond the time when the risk of pulmonary embolism (PE) has subsided.
The FDA is concerned that these retrievable IVC filters, intended for short-term placement, are not always removed once a patient’s risk for PE subsides. Known long term risks associated with IVC filters include but are not limited to lower limb deep vein thrombosis (DVT), filter fracture, filter migration, filter embolization and IVC perforation.
If you Google the term IVC filter currently, you will likely see a bunch of results for law firms. The reason you will see so many search results for attorneys pertains to the increasing number of lawsuits filed because of complications resulting from the filter. Some IVC filters have been known to break, or cause damages to veins and organs. One such complication from a malfunctioning IVC filter involves Deep Vein Thrombosis. This is essentially a blood clot in one of the deeper veins in your legs. This can be very painful, and once again, if the clot breaks loose, it can seriously harm your heart, lungs, or other organs. Other complications include: Device-associated morbidity device migration, filter embolization, filter fracture, insertion-site thrombosis, perforation of the vena cava, recurrent DVT, recurrent PE, thrombotic complications, vena cava thrombosis.
If you’re reading this, you likely have some sort of history with an IVC filter. Perhaps you’ve had one implanted into your body. If that is the case, talk to your doctor or primary care physician about your concerns. He or she will be able to answer any questions you have regarding your device.
If you’ve had issues or complications with your IVC filter, call us. We’d love to explain your options to you and answer any questions you have about your legal rights. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk at this time, fill out this form, and we will call you at a better time.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law