When and How Are Bard IVC Filters Used in Surgical Patients?

Many patients are worried about potential complications after major surgery. One of the most common concerns is the formation of blood clots, which can travel throughout the body and into the heart or lungs, increasing the danger of post-surgical strokes. Blood thinning medications are often prescribed after surgery to prevent this from happening, but many patients cannot tolerate these drugs, leaving doctors little option other than to implant small filter devices directly into their veins.

When Are Bard IVC Filters Used?

IVC filters are tiny wire cages placed directly into the inferior vena cava, a large vein that sends blood from the legs back to the heart. As most blood clots form in the legs, the placement of these devices allows them to trap blood clots before they reach the heart, allowing them to break apart over time.

As IVC filters carry their own complications, they're only used as a last resort for patients who cannot be treated with blood thinners. IVC filters are usually placed in patients who have a high risk of developing blood clots in the legs, such as:

  • Patients who have recently had surgery or given birth
  • Patients diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis
  • Patients with a history of blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Trauma victims
  • Patients confined to their beds, suffering from paralysis, or otherwise immobile

How Are IVC Filters Implanted?

Red blood cellsImplantation of an IVC filter is a minimally-invasive procedure that is usually done on an outpatient basis. Patients may be able to receive an IVC filter under mild sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure usually takes about an hour.

Surgeons typically insert the filter into an incision made in the neck or upper leg, allowing the filter to travel through the body before placing it into the IVC. After the area of your body where the incision is to be made is prepped for surgery, a small cut is made and a catheter (a long, thin, hollow plastic tube) is inserted under the skin. Your doctor may use contrast dye during the placement process to help guide the catheter and place the IVC filter securely in the blood vessel.

Once the catheter is in place, the IVC filter is fed through it until it reaches the IVC vein. Once it's in the right position, the surgeon releases the IVC filter and fully expands the legs of the device so it attaches to the walls of the blood vessel. The catheter is then removed and the incision is dressed.

Some IVC filters are removable, allowing the patient to discard the device once the danger of clotting has passed. Removal of an IVC filter is similar to implantation, except the IVC device is captured with a small hook and closed like an umbrella before being pulled from the body.

How Can Patients Know If a Defective IVC Filter Caused an Injury?

While most of the IVC filters after surgery are meant to stay in place, the Bard IVC filter is a retrievable device, which can pose more risks than the filters that remain inside a patient’s body. Retrievable filters are not as hardy as those made for permanent use, and patients have been warned about a number of serious side effects caused by Bard IVC filters, including:

  • Potential for the IVC filter to become lodged in the wrong place. These filters may move throughout the body, and can cause holes (perforations) in veins and arteries of the body that lead to internal bleeding.
  • Fracture and migration of pieces of the filters. A piece of the IVC filter may break loose and travel to the heart, lungs, or other organs, possibly resulting in injury or death.
  • Unintended blockages. IVC filters may trap so many clots that the flow of blood in the vein is blocked, causing a patient's legs to swell and other life-threatening side effects.
  • Growing into the surrounding tissue. Some retrievable filters may become scarred to the walls of the vein and cannot be removed, forcing doctors to leave the filter in permanently.

Let Us Help You Investigate

It can take months or even years for patients to notice symptoms of injury from IVC filters; at first, they may simply mistake the effects as just another surgery complication. The McGartland Law Firm can investigate the circumstances of your surgery and discover whether a defective medical device is to blame for your suffering. We have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients, and you will owe us no legal fees unless we win your case. Call the number on this page today or use our convenient contact form to speak with one of our representatives.