Thousands of people in Louisiana and other states are part of class-action lawsuits against the manufacturers of IVC filters. If you experience medical problems after receiving such an implant, you might seek answers to several questions. If your blood forms clots, they could travel to the heart or lungs and cause deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolisms. The typical treatment would be a prescription for anticoagulants that would thin the blood to prevent blood clots. Sometimes, the blood thinners do not work, and this is where IVC filters come in.
The IVC filter is a tiny, cone-shaped device that allows blood to flow but captures blood clots, and it is placed in the largest vein in a person’s body — the inferior vena cava. The most modern of these devices are retrievable.
Known complications of IVC filters
The United States Food and Drug Administration says some side effects such as chest pains, breathlessness, irregular heartbeat and loss of consciousness are less serious. However, the following life-threatening IVC filter complications can develop at different stages from the implant procedure to the retrieval:
- Thrombosis: IVC filters can block deoxygenated blood on its way to the heart, causing the formation of blood clots — even though its purpose is to prevent such formations. Symptoms could include painful and swollen legs, inflammation, fever, pain in the lower back and pulmonary embolism.
- Migration and embolization of the IVC Filter: Temperature fluctuations in the body can cause the flexible IVC device to detach and migrate through the IVC as the blood carries it to other organs, including the heart. During this embolization, the IVC filter can cause severe damage on its way. Palpitations, abnormal heart rhythms, chest pain and fainting are symptoms of this complication. However, if it reaches the heart it could cause death.
- Perforation: IVC filters could create perforations in the inferior vena cava walls, either during implantation or during retrieval. The mere presence of the filter in the body can cause perforations that could lead to gastrointestinal bleeding or swollen blood clots in the abdominal cavity tissues. The body’s reaction to the resulting infection might cause sepsis that could lead to general organ failure, shock and ultimately, death.
- Fractures: Modern IVC filters are retrievable, and the FDA says that leaving them in the body for too long can allow fracturing of the device. Fragments of the broken filters can migrate to the heart with life-threatening consequences. Removal if the filter should take place as soon as there is no longer a threat of blood clots forming.
How should you proceed?
Knowing that your life is on the line as the result of a dangerous medical device that was supposed to save your life can cause extreme anxiety, and taking legal steps while suffering severe health problems might seem daunting. However, legal professionals who know how such complicated legal processes in Louisiana work are available to advocate for you, whether through a trial in court or by joining a class-action lawsuit.