IVC Filter Side Effects

The most serious side effects of IVC filters are linked to filter fracture and/or migration. The filters often consist of a design containing thin wire “legs.” These legs can break off the device and travel within a patient’s bloodstream and become lodged in an internal organ, usually the heart or lungs. If a filter does fracture, it may not cause any problems. However, the piece may cause serious life threatening situations such as perforation of the heart tissue.

When migration occurs the filter shifts its position, and thus become ineffective at preventing a pulmonary embolism. In serious situation it may perforate the inferior vena cava or shift into a position where the device is impossible to remove.

Serious side effects associated with IVC filters include the following:

  • Device migration
  • Filter embolization (heart, lung, liver, kidney)
  • Filter fragmentation
  • Insertion-site thrombosis
  • Perforation of the vena cava
  • Recurrent deep vein thrombosis
  • Recurrent pulmonary embolism
  • Thrombotic complications
  • Vena cava thrombosis
  • IVC trauma
  • Penetration of vessel wall
  • Filter infection
  • Death

The specific adverse events listed in the FDA report regarding IVC filters include:

  • 70 filter perforations
  • 328 device migrations
  • 56 filter fractures
  • 146 embolization

Based on this report, the majority of adverse events consisted of device migration, 35.6 percent, and embolization as the second most frequently reported complication, at 15.9 percent.

Retrievable IVC filters are only intended for short-term placement, and the FDA has warned that these devices should not stay in patients after the pulmonary embolism risk has subsided. The FDA is worried that physicians are not removing the device in a timely manner.

If you have been affected by any of these side effects after implantation of an IVC filter, or if a loved one has died in association with an IVC filter implantation, please contact us right away. You can fill out a free case evaluation form, or call us for a free consultation.