What Is an IVC Filter, and What Are the Potential Complications?

An inferior vena cava filter, IVC filter, is designed to reduce the chances that someone will experience a pulmonary embolism, or PE. This potentially fatal condition occurs when a blood clot enters the lungs. A PE is one of the most common causes of death in hospital patients.

The device, which is shaped somewhat like a small cage, is inserted into the inferior vena cava. This is the body’s largest vein, responsible for carrying blood into the heart from the lower extremities. It is designed to catch any blood clot that comes up from the legs so that it does not enter the lungs. Eventually, the body breaks down the clot so that it is no longer a threat. An IVC filter is usually inserted near the groin, typically through a catheter.

Most retrievable IVC filters are supposed to be removed once blood clots are no longer considered a threat. A doctor will inject a dye or contrast in order to verify it is safe to remove the filter, and then use a type of snare that connects with a hook located at the end of the IVC filter. The doctor then pulls the filter out of the vein.


However, many IVC filters have either fractured inside a patient’s body or migrated to other areas of the body, often perforating organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys or even heart. In some instances, filters have lodged into a patient’s bones or spine. This problem, known as a “device embolism,” can do long-term damage or may even be fatal. In some instances, a fractured filter cannot be safely removed and must remain in the organ that it punctured.

If you have suffered a complication due to the fracture or migration of an IVC filter, the national law firm of Baron & Budd may be able to help. Complete our contact form or call 866-731-7909 to see if you may qualify to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective filter.

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