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For people with blood clotting issues, the IVC filter, or inferior vena cava filter, can be a help. This medical device is implanted in patients who don't tolerate anti-coagulants or blood thinners.
The filters are designed to prevent clotting, but increasingly they are drawing attention for the dangers they present to patients. There are numerous lawsuits against the device makers by injured patients and the Food and Drug Administration has issued advice to doctors on monitoring and removal of IVC filters. So should you have yours removed? Let's look at what the FDA says.
IVC Filter Adverse Effects
About two year ago, the FDA updated its guidance on IVC blood filters. The authority said it received reports of adverse effects from the small "cage-like devices" that are implanted in the inferior vena cava to regulate blood flow.
Complaints included device migration, meaning that the filter moved within the body, and filter fracture, where a part of a filter broke off and migrated. The FDA also reported cases of embolization, where either the whole filter or parts of it moved to the patient's heart or lungs. Some doctors reported difficulty removing these devices and some reported that the filters were perforated when inside the patient.
As you can see, there are a few things that can go wrong, and the list of adverse effects above is not exhaustive. The longer a filter remains in your system, the higher the likelihood of some adverse effect. In light of that, the FDA recommends that patients who have IVC blood filters be monitored closely by their doctors.
Device Monitoring and Removal
Filters should be removed as soon as possible, depending on the circumstances. What that means is that you should have your device removed as soon as it is no longer medically necessary. The FDA expressed particular concern that IVC filters which are implanted to protect against the dangers of pulmonary embolism are not removed when the risk of embolism has passed. They asked doctors to monitor patients closely and remove the filters promptly, but did not specify an amount of time.
What will be right for you depends on your physical situation and your doctor's recommendation. After you talk to your doctor about IVC blood filter monitoring and removal, take some time to consult with counsel, too.
Consult With Counsel
If you have experienced adverse effects from any medical device or other type of product, talk to a lawyer. Tell your story. Be heard. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.