Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are small, cage-like devices implanted into the vena cava – a large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart – to prevent blood clots from reaching vital organs and causing a pulmonary embolism. These devices are valuable for patients who have a high risk for pulmonary embolism but cannot take an anticoagulant. Trauma patients are generally included in this group as they may not be able to take an anticoagulant because of their injuries or need for surgery.

However, a recent study published in January by JAMA Surgery suggests that not all trauma patients who receive IVC filters need them. This can place patients at an increased risk for serious complications, such as device fracturing and migration and perforation of major blood vessels.

The study analyzed the medical records of patients who received temporary IVC filters in the level I trauma center at Boston University School of Medicine between August 2003 and December 2012. The study found that patients who survived 24 hours after the implantation of an IVC filter did not experience improved chances of survival. Additionally, after six-month and one-year follow-ups there were no significant differences between those who received an IVC filter and those who did not.

The researchers noted that although there is a continued need for IVC filters in some patients, indiscriminate use of the devices places many patients at an unnecessary risk for complications without added benefit. The study also noted that only eight percent of temporary IVC filters placed in trauma patients were ever removed. Other studies have found a less than 30 percent removal rate for all IVC filter patients.

A failure to remove temporary IVC filters can cause serious complications and injury for patients. Several IVC filter lawsuits have been filed against device manufacturers by patients who have suffered harm from these devices.

If you or someone you love has been injured after having an IVC filter implanted, contact our product liability lawyers for more information about your right to compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, and more.