Doctors Debate Safety of IVC Filters

Amid increasing concerns about the safety and effectiveness of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters for the prevention of pulmonary embolism and other blood clot problems, Dr. Anita Rajasekhar, a hematologist from the University of Florida, and Dr. Joseph Stavas, a professor of radiology at the University of North Carolina, were invited to debate the issue in an article published this month in the American Society of Hematology publication, Ash Clinical News. If you received an IVC filter in the past, and you have since experienced a major complication like filter migration, filter fracture, filter embolization, or the inability to retrieve the blood clot filter, consult a knowledgeable IVC filter attorney today to explore your possible compensation options.

Alleged IVC Filter Side Effects

IVC filters, also known as blood clot filters, are small, cage-like devices inserted into the inferior vena cava, the main vessel returning blood from the lower half of the body to the heart, to trap blood clots and prevent them from reaching the lungs and causing a serious complication like pulmonary embolism. In most cases, IVC filters are used in patients who are unable to take anticoagulant medications, or for whom anticoagulant therapy is unsuccessful, and while some filters are designed to be permanent, retrievable IVC filters are designed to be removed once the risk of pulmonary embolism has subsided. The FDA has warned in the past though, that IVC filters may pose a risk of serious side effects for patients, and the agency has received reports of serious adverse events associated with blood clot filters, including filter fracture, device migration, embolization and perforation of the inferior vena cava.

IVC Filters May Provide a “False Sense of Security”

In an effort to better understand the possible risks of IVC filters, Drs. Rajasekhar and Stavas debated in the Ash Clinical News article the safety of the medical devices, which have increased in use since the 1970s, despite the lack of a documented increase in patient survival rates. According to Dr. Stavas, for many medical professionals, IVC filters have become a “crutch for managing patients with thrombosis, providing a false sense of security,” when the devices actually have the potential to migrate out of position, or fracture and send fragments of the filter to the heart, causing a pulmonary embolism, the very event the medical devices are designed to prevent. Says Dr. Rajasekhar, “An IVC filter does nothing to decrease a person’s inherent tendency to develop a clot. In my practice, I see many patients who are predisposed to thrombosis…and placing a potentially thrombogenic foreign device into their veins does them a disservice in the long term.”

Doctors Call for Stricter IVC Filter Guidelines

According to Drs. Rajasekhar and Stavas, there “always will be a small subset of patients with an absolute contraindication for anticoagulation who would benefit from IVC filters,” but the doctors also agreed that the medical devices can pose serious risks for some patients, especially retrievable blood clot filters that are left in place for too long. In a safety communication released in May 2014, the FDA noted that “retrievable IVC filters, when placed for a short-term risk of pulmonary embolism, are not always removed once the risk subsides,” which may put patients at risk for serious and potentially life-threatening complications. Both Drs. Rajasekhar and Stavas recommend that more stringent guidelines be developed for the use of IVC filters, taking into account the inherent risks of filter placement, failure and retrieval.

Contact an Experienced IVC Filter Lawyer Today

In its May 2014 safety announcement, the FDA recommends that “implanting physicians and clinicians responsible for the ongoing care of patients with retrievable IVC filters consider removing the filter as soon as protection from pulmonary embolism is no longer needed,” to reduce the risk of filter fracture, filter migration, filter embolization, and other complications. If you believe you have been adversely affected by side effects of an IVC filter, like the Bard Recovery, Bard G2, Cook Celect or Cook Gunther Tulip filter, contact an experienced IVC filter lawyer as soon as possible for legal help. With a qualified product liability lawyer on your side, you can protect your legal rights and pursue the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries, medical bills, and emotional trauma.

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