When a new medical device enters the market, doctors may be eager to see which conditions benefit from its use. While new products may ease dangerous conditions in many patients, some medical devices end up doing more harm than good, especially if the device is an implant. One example is the use of Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters to prevent blood clots, which has caused some patients to file lawsuits after Bard IVC filters caused injury.
Which Patients Should Consider IVC Filter Placement?
Although IVC filters are used to treat a variety of different conditions, some researchers believe the devices are often used when there are better alternatives. A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Interventions found IVC filters are so harmful, they should only be used in a very small percentage of patients.
Investigators reviewed several different IVC filter studies and discovered that:
- IVC filters do not significantly reduce pulmonary embolism. A population-based study of hospitalization records over the course of four years did not see any major reductions in pulmonary embolism (blood clots traveling to the lungs) in patients implanted with IVC filters.
- IVC filters may increase deep vein thrombosis (DVT) risks. At least one study showed an increase in hospitalization for DVT, or blood clots in the legs, in IVC patients over four years, with a further increase in DVT after 2 additional years.
- Most IVC filter patients have no mortality benefit over other groups. After eight years of follow-up, most IVC filter patients were no less likely to suffer fatal effects of blood clots than patients treated with other prevention methods. The only patients to receive a mortality benefit were those with pulmonary embolism, whose mortality risks decreased by 35 percent.
- IVC filter patients may suffer ill health. One study showed that patients who lived with an IVC filter for three years had a higher incidence of DVT and were more likely to be more severely ill than patients without filters.
- Preventive placement of IVC filters is not often beneficial. While some surgeons may implant IVC filters after trauma for early-prevention of clotting, many researchers disagree with the practice. Not only is the patient at risk of injury during deployment of the device, but also, he is more likely to suffer complications the longer the filter is left in place.
The researchers agreed that IVC filters can be beneficial, but only in extremely limited circumstances. The best candidates are patients who have failed adequate anti-coagulation testing who are at high risk of pulmonary embolism. In all cases, researchers agree that long-term use of these devices increases the risk of injury, and IVC filters should be removed once the threat of blood clots has passed.
Are There Alternatives to Bard IVC Filters?
The main alternative to IVC filters is treatment with anticoagulants, commonly called blood thinners. Post-surgical patients at risk of strokes and blood clots are commonly given heparin or another anticoagulant to prevent clotting during healing. However, patients who have an increased risk of severe bleeding cannot be given blood thinners, such as those with clotting disorders or kidney problems.
Patients at risk of DVT or pulmonary embolism who cannot tolerate blood thinners do have one alternative to IVC filters: intermittent pneumatic compression. In this treatment, an inflatable sleeve is placed over the leg or another area of the body, which is connected to an air pump. The pump inflates the sleeve to force blood out of the affected area and back to the heart, then deflates to allow blood to return. The repeated action of the pump allows blood to circulate regularly, reducing the ability of clots to form.
Let Us Help
If you've have suffered a life-changing injury as a result of a Bard IVC filter, the McGartland Law Firm can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Call the number on this page today, or use our convenient contact form to speak with one of our representatives. We'll listen to the details of your claim at no cost to you, and we don't collect any legal fees unless we win your case.