IVC Filter Strut Embolism Risk Highlighted In Case Report

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A new case study details the risks associated with inferior vena cava filter fractures, detailing how one woman who suffered an embolism and ultimately had to leave the broken pieces of the implant inside her body, which may result in life-threatening complications at any time. 

The case study was published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine by healthcare professionals from Massachusetts General Hospital, describing problems experienced by a 28 year old woman.

According to the report, the patient admitted herself to their emergency department due to pain in her right flank. Doctors determined that she had a history of nephrolithiasis, deep vein thrombosis and had suffered a pulmonary embolism 10 years earlier. As a result, she had been implanted with an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter.

IVC filters are small, spider like devices that have been approved for use among individuals at risk of suffering a pulmonary embolism. While they are designed to catch blood clots that break free elsewhere in the body, and prevent them from reaching the lungs, thousands of individuals have experienced IVC filter injuries, typically involving devices that were designed to be retrievable after the blood clot risk had passed.

In this case, the IVC filter was left in place within the woman’s body for a decade, the medical team noted. They performed a computed tomography (CT) scan of her abdomen and found that the IVC filter had fragmented, with multiple struts perforating her vena cava.

Two of the struts had caused embolisms after fracturing, with one of the struts within the right ventricular trabeculae. A third strut had broken off and migrated to within only 1 mm from her right ureter.

Despite their precarious position, the doctors felt they had to leave the broken implant pieces in place, though they were able to extract the main part of the IVC filter.

“The patient’s flank pain resolved with only supportive care before the retrieval of the filter,” the medical team wrote. “After consideration of the risks of an intervention to retrieve the struts, a decision was made to leave the embolized struts in place.”

The report describes problems similar to those outlined in many IVC filter lawsuits being pursued by individuals nationwide, which allege that manufacturers sold defective and unreasonably dangerous products in recent years, which are prone to fracture or fail.

There are currently more than 3,500 Bard IVC filter lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, which are currently centralized before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Another 1,900 Cook IVC filter lawsuits are centralized as part of a separate MDL, raising similar allegations of problems associated with filters manufactured by Cook Medical.

Earlier this month, a federal jury in Arizona ordered C.R. Bard to pay a woman $3.6 million for injuries suffered after a Bard G2 Vena Cava filter fractured inside of her body, and another bellwether trial is set to begin on May 15, involving similar problems with a Bard Eclipse IVC filter.

As IVC filter injury lawyers continue to review and file additional claims over the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that the size of the litigation will continue to grow in the coming months and years.

While the outcomes of these early “bellwether” trials are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. If the manufacturers fail to negotiate IVC filter settlements to resolve large numbers of cases in the coming months, they may start facing hundreds of individual trial dates nationwide.

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