Retrievable IVC filters, such as the Bard Recovery or Bard G2 / G2 Express, have been associated with a risk of migration. This risk increases when the device is not placed correctly, or not removed after the patient is not at risk of a pulmonary embolism.
IVC Filter Lawsuit Information
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IVC Filter Migration
Migration of an IVC filter is a rare but serious complication. It is technically defined as at least 1 cm of movement from the filter’s original location. It may refer to migration of the entire filter, or migration of pieces of the filter due to filter fracture. Both scenarios can be deadly.
An IVC filter is a medical device placed in a patient’s inferior vena cava (IVC) to prevent blood clots from reaching the lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. Since the advent of retrievable IVC filters, the use of these devices has increased substantially among patients at risk of a pulmonary embolism who are contraindicated for a blood-thinning medication. The most popular retrievable filters are manufactured by C.R. Bard, including the Bard Recovery (withdrawn in 2005) and the Bard G2 / G2 Express filters.
Unfortunately, retrievable IVC filters are associated with a risk of migration. In 2010, the FDA published a Safety Communication warning about this risk — especially when retrievable devices are not removed in a timely manner.
Studies of IVC Filter Migration
In February 2008, the Journal of Trauma published this report describing the case of a 53 year-old man whose IVC filter migrated to his heart and destroyed his tricuspid valve. The man required heart surgery to replace the valve.
The Journal of Invasive Cardiology published this study in 2009, which reviewed nearly 30 case reports describing IVC filter migration. The researchers found that retrievable IVC filters were more likely than older IVC filters to migrate to the heart or lungs, cause arrhythmias, other life-threatening complications, and death. Furthermore, many people whose IVC filter migrates to the heart require open-heart surgery.
In 2006, surgeons published this report, warning: “Migration of an IVC filter to the heart is a rare event that can result in massive pulmonary embolism.” The surgeons described a case where a patient’s IVC filter was clogged with blood clots. When the filter migrated, the blood clots could dislodge and cause a deadly pulmonary embolism.
This study describes two case reports where an IVC filter migrated to the heart and cause severe complications.
Complications of IVC Filter Migration
Retrievable IVC filters (such as the Bard Recovery and G2) have been linked to a high rate of migration. The complication is not always a problem, but it can be life-threatening if it moves into the heart. Once it migrates into the heart, patients almost always require surgery. A device that remains in the heart is associated with more than 50% mortality. However, open-heart surgery is also associated with a high risk of death. If the migrated filter cannot be removed, the patient may require lifelong monitoring and medical care.
When an IVC filter migrates, complications may include:
- Cardiac tamponade (fluid around the heart)
- Irregular heartbeat (especially ventricular arrhythmias)
- Pulmonary embolisms
- Erosion of the device into the inferior vena cava
- Perforation of the heart, lungs, blood vessels
- Filter may be clogged with clots
- Migrated filter may not protect against pulmonary embolisms
- Open-heart surgery may be required to remove the filter
- Decreased quality of life
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