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IVC Filters Causing Cardiac Tamponade
(15 Most Common Symptoms)

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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IVC filters cause several complications, including cardiac tamponade and fluid buildup around the heart. When IVC filters break and migrate, they can reach the heart and let blood into the space between the pericardium and the heart, which could be fatal.

Thousands of inferior vena cava filter lawsuits have been filed by victims and their families affected by cardiac tamponade.

Experienced lawyers at Schmidt and Clark can help you seek compensation for medical complications like cardiac tamponade caused by IVC filters. You may qualify for damages, and we can help you receive the money you deserve.

Quick Summary

  • Cardiac tamponade is stress put onto the heart when blood or other fluids accumulate in the space between the heart and pericardium.
  • Symptoms of cardiac tamponade include chest pain, abdominal swelling, breathing problems, dizziness, fainting, leg swelling, low blood pressure, etc.
  •  Causes of cardiac tamponade include heart attack, heart surgery, pericarditis, heart tumors, chest wounds, and a fractured IVC filter.
  • An IVC filter that experiences fracture causes cardiac tamponade by migrating into other areas of the heart and causing cardiac perforation or adding fluid to the pericardial fluid to produce pressure on the heart and cause subsequent pericardial tamponade.

What Is Cardiac Tamponade?

Man on a heart machineCardiac tamponade is stress put onto the heart when blood or other fluids accumulate between the heart and the pericardium.

The pericardium is a double-walled sac surrounding the heart, which usually contains some pericardial fluid. If more fluid is added, it can squeeze the heart because the sac can’t expand to make room for the new fluid.

Cardiac tamponade is a severe medical condition. When pressure occurs on the heart, the ventricles can’t fully expand, which keeps them from pumping blood to the rest of the body.

This can lead to [1]:

  • Heart failure
  • Organ failure
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Shock
  • Kidney failure

Related Article: IVC Filter Lawsuit Update

Symptoms of Cardiac Tamponade

Person worried about the symptoms of cardiac tamponade

Patients suffering from cardiac tamponade will notice the following symptoms [2]:

  • Chest pain increases with coughing or taking a deep breath. 
  • Physical discomfort that decreases when sitting down or leaning forward
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Breathing problems
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Pale skin
  • Heart palpitations
  • Leg swelling
  • Low blood pressure
  • A weak or absent pulse

Causes of Cardiac Tamponade

Papaers and a pen

There are several causes of cardiac tamponade, including [3]:

  • Heart attack
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Heart tumors
  • Cancer
  • Pericarditis
  • Chest wounds
  • Heart Trauma

Many instances of cardiac tamponade happen when external objects like inferior vena cava filters penetrate the heart.

The trauma can compromise the pericardium and pericardial space and let blood and fluid enter the space between the heart and the pericardium.

How Do Vena Cava Filters Cause Cardiac Tamponade?

An inferior vena cava filter causes cardiac tamponade when they break and migrate from the IVC into other areas of the heart like the superior vena cava and the pericardial space.

When broken parts of the IVC filter reach the heart, they can perforate the pericardium and cause cardiac tamponade [4].

How Inferior Vena Cava Filters Work

Inferior vena cava filters are implantable devices implanted in the inferior vena cava by a vascular and interventional radiology specialist. This vein runs from the legs through the abdomen to the lungs and heart.

Once the IVC filter placement occurs, the IVC filter struts open to catch blood clots traveling up the inferior vena cava and prevent them from reaching the heart or lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism [5].

Broken and Migrating IVC Filters Cause Cardiac Tamponade

Man with his hand on chestIVC filters tend to break. If they fail, they can move away from the implantation site and toward the heart, causing cardiac tamponade.

The majority of inferior vena cava filters are only designed for temporary use. 

The FDA has repeatedly stressed the need to remove an inferior vena cava filter as soon as the pulmonary embolism risk has been eradicated [6].

One study found that the benefits of an inferior vena cava filter are highly outweighed by the risks 29 to 54 days after placement [7]. However, removing an inferior vena cava IVC filter is delayed or never happens [8].

The FDA is concerned that retrievable IVC filters, when placed due to a short-term risk for pulmonary embolism, aren’t always removed once the risk subsides,”
Namandje N. Bumpus, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Food And Drug Administration

The longer the inferior vena cava IVC filter stays in the body, the more likely it is to break, causing filter migration.

Due to the blood flow of the inferior vena cava going towards the heart, most fractured IVC filter pieces go to the heart, causing superior vena cava perforation and severe medical conditions like cardiac tamponade.

Treatment of Cardiac Tamponade

Cardiac tamponade is a severe condition that must be treated as quickly as possible. A doctor must rapidly drain the fluid around the heart using a needle to remove fluid from the tissue around the heart.

Your surgeon may also perform a surgical operation to cut and remove part of the pericardium. Fluids are given to stabilize blood pressure until the fluid can be drained. Doctors may also give oxygen to help with oxygen saturation.

Many cases of cardiac tamponade are related to IVC filter fracture. The injuries these filters have caused have led to hundreds of lawsuits against IVC filter manufacturers.

If you or a relative have experienced cardiac tamponade from an IVC filter breakdown, you can seek compensation for the injuries caused by the filter.

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Average Settlement

Gavel and moneyBased on previous IVC filter verdicts, the average settlement may be between $100,000 and $500,000. Below is an example of a previously settled case.

Sherr-Una Booker had her Bard IVC filter placed in 2007. Two years later, a radiologist noticed fragments of the IVC filter in her heart and spine.

A federal jury awarded Booker $3.6 million after her IVC filter fractured, resulting in open heart surgery to remove the pieces.

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See all related medical device lawsuits our lawyers have covered.


What Are Common Complications of IVC Filter Placement?

The common complications of IVC filters are excessive bleeding, infection, allergic reaction, damage to blood vessels, blocking of blood flow to the vena cava, leg swelling, a broken filter heating to the heart or lungs, and damage to other organs due to filter puncture. 

How Do They Confirm Cardiac Tamponade?

A key sign of cardiac tamponade is a trio of symptoms known as Beck’s triad, which includes low blood pressure, bulging neck veins, and a heartbeat that sounds distant or muffled.

Can You Survive Cardiac Tamponade?

You can survive cardiac tamponade, but it is fatal if not treated quickly. If the extra fluid builds up around the heart too soon before it can be addressed, cardiac tamponade can cause death.

What Are the Symptoms of IVC Filter Issues?

The symptoms of IVC filter issues are painful swelling in the legs, darkening of the skin, and ulceration in the lower extremities. 

How Much Fluid Is Needed to Be Considered Cardiac Tamponade?

300-600 ml of pericardial fluid can cause cardiac tamponade; the average amount of fluid is around 100 ml.

How Is Cardiac Tamponade Prevented?

It isn’t possible to prevent all cardiac tamponade cases. Patients can reduce their risks by avoiding exposure to bacterial or viral infections and receiving treatment for medical conditions.

Can You See Cardiac Tamponade on an EKG?

The EKG of a person with cardiac tamponade shows sinus tachycardia and occasionally reduced QRS voltage. 

What Other Heart Conditions Can Mimic Cardiac Tamponade?

The symptoms of cardiac tamponade can mimic right-side heart failure, right ventricle infarction, pericarditis, and pulmonary embolism. 

How Can I Reduce the Fluid Around My Heart Naturally?

You can naturally reduce the fluid around your heart by reducing stress, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, fighting viruses and infections, reducing inflammation, and trying natural sleep aids. 

How Long Can IVC Filters Stay in the Body?

A retrievable IVC filter can stay in the body for around six months. As soon as the risk of a clot moving to the heart and lungs is mitigated, it should be removed.

If blood thinners cannot be used, the filter may have to stay in place for an extended period.

Who Is Eligible for an IVC Filter?

Anyone diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, and those at risk of developing blood clots in the legs is eligible for an IVC filter. 

How Does Pericardial Effusion Lead to Cardiac Tamponade?

Pericardial effusion is a condition in which extra fluid collects between the heart and the sac around the heart. The excess fluid puts pressure on the heart, leading to cardiac tamponade. 

Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation

If you or a relative have experienced serious medical issues from an IVC filter fracture, you may be liable to file a lawsuit against the filter manufacturer. 

Our experienced medical device litigation lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP can help you file a claim and get the compensation you deserve.

We can help you receive compensation for medical expenses, future medical procedures, and more. Schmidt and Clark can also help you gather evidence and expert witnesses if you go to trial.



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