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Migration of IVC Filter Following Implant
Signs & Symptoms

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An IVC filter migrating within your body after being implanted is dangerous. It could move toward your heart, lungs, or other delicate body organs, posing a serious medical risk.

If your IVC filter has migrated, it can lead to various complications and even deadly outcomes.

As a TORT lawyer at Schmidt & Clark, I can help you get compensation for damages by filing a lawsuit, given that you have enough evidence to back up your claim.

Quick Summary

  • A migrated IVC filter can harm your body’s organs, which could lead to severe health complications.
  • IVC filters should be removed once the patient is no longer suffering from pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis.
  • If you notice any symptoms, such as abdominal pain or chest pain, your IVC filter implant may have migrated, and at this point, you should see a doctor immediately.
  • Always consult with your doctor to ensure they implanted the right type and size of IVC filter in your body to reduce the chances of the IVC device migrating.

How IVC Filters Can Migrate

A doctor checking a patient for the IVC filterIVC filters are medical tools that transport blood from your legs straight up to your heart and lungs. They are usually inserted into the neck or groin through an incision. The struts are placed firmly within the vein walls with the help of a catheter.

These inferior vena cava filters are important because they prevent blood clots, which could cause a blockage of blood within your lungs, leading to a medical condition known as pulmonary embolism.

The inferior vena cava filter can migrate if it moves away from the exact vein in your body where it was implanted. Usually, the struts are responsible for keeping the IVC filter in place.

If the struts are under immense pressure, they could end up tearing through your vein walls and lodging in the organs in your body, causing perforation. 

However, if they are not properly placed, minor activities such as breathing or even heartbeats could get the filter dislodged.

Most experts are usually of the opinion that the IVC filter should not be implanted in the body for a long time, even though the expiration date of an IVC filter is not entirely known.

Nonetheless, research strongly suggests that for patients with retrievable inferior vena cava filters in whom the transient risk of pulmonary embolism has passed, the benefit and risk profile begins to favor filter removal between 29 and 54 days after implantation [1].

Another study has found strong evidence that, despite recommendations for doctors to remove IVC implants from patients who are not at risk for pulmonary embolism, the majority of these devices remain in place [2].

This is also why retrievable IVC filters are preferred to irretrievable IVC filters because they will need to be removed at some point and can be done with fewer complications.

Related Article: IVC Filter Lawsuits Update

Medical Challenges Associated With Migrating IVC Filters

A keyboard next to a stethoscope A migrating IVC filter can cause serious medical complications depending on where it migrates and the organs it affects.

However, most migrating IVC filters are known to migrate to either the heart or the lungs because they transport blood from the blood vessels in your legs to these organs.

Doing so could lead to severe health complications such as internal bleeding, heart attack, a hole in the heart, and torn veins and arteries, among others.

These conditions usually require serious medical treatment and, in some cases, surgery for you to recover and return to full health.

Studies have also shown that migrating IVC filters could lead to chest pain, acute shock, and hemodynamic instability, especially if the filter migrated to the heart [3].

Another unique condition is pulmonary embolism, which could arise when the IVC filter fails to prevent blood clots from traveling from your vena cava vein to your heart and lungs. 

Usually, when this happens, you may not develop obvious symptoms immediately, and sometimes your doctor may not even notice that you have symptoms until the filter has migrated and caused a problem in another area of your body.

At this point, even if you decide to undergo treatment, the chances that you may have already developed a full-blown pulmonary embolism are very likely.

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Signs That an IVC Filter Has Migrated

When an IVC filter migrates, you may not immediately notice any signs and symptoms. However, if the IVC device has caused complications in your organs or other areas of your body, you may begin to notice some symptoms.

In this case, the signs include general back pain, chest pain, chronic abdominal pain, neck pain, nausea, lightheadedness, confusion, low blood pressure, and arrhythmia.

These symptoms are also known to appear with other medical conditions, which makes it difficult for your doctor to know early on that they are signs of a migrating IVC filter.

Types of IVC Filter Migration

Stethoscope image

There are three types of IVC filter migration. We shall take a look at them below:

Mechanical IVC Filter Migration

This type of IVC filter migration is usually the fault of the IVC manufacturers, who produce defective IVC devices. However, a surgeon can detect a faulty IVC device during the IVC filter placement procedure.

These defective filters are quite dangerous, which is why thousands of lawsuits are being filed against manufacturers for failing to test their products before releasing them for use in hospitals.

Also, these faulty IVC devices are more likely to be worse for us than older IVC filter models, proving why they shouldn’t have been released in the first place.

Iatrogenic IVC Filter Migration

IVC filters are usually produced and approved by manufacturers in line with various vena cava measurements. An iatrogenic IVC filter migration occurs when an IVC device with the wrong measurements is implanted within the walls of the vena cava vein. 

In cases like this, such filters won’t fit properly and may even get entangled with other materials in the body, leading to serious IVC filter complications.

Physiological IVC Filter Migration

Defective retrievable IVC filters can cause many negative changes in your body, including IVC filter migration. 

Also, because this flawed IVC filter device has been implanted in your body, minor physiological activities such as breathing, bending, coughing, straining, and many others can cause the IVC filter to migrate.

A Case Report of IVC Filter Migrating to the Heart

Doctor explaining IVC filter reportsA 34-year-old woman suffered severe injuries in her lower body area after being involved in a serious motor accident.

This led to her undergoing multiple surgeries, and in the process, she developed deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism.

Upon close examination, it was decided an IVC filter placement will be done on her. Despite this, she was still complaining about having lower back pains.

An x-ray was done on her, and it was discovered the IVC filter and struts were still in place.

A CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis showed a broken strut right in the anterior wall of her right ventricle caused by the filter fracture.

It was agreed the filter was missing a strut, although this posed a minor health risk to the woman because it didn’t affect any vital organ, vein, or artery.

After much deliberation, the surgeons decided to leave the filter and the strut since she showed no symptoms [4].

“Bringing the first fully absorbable IVC filter to market during a time when both absorbable implants and IVC filters have faced significant challenges has been a tough but rewarding endeavor. We didn’t set out to do something easy. We set out to do something revolutionary.”
Dr. Joseph Steele, Chief Medical Officer at Adient

Further Points to Note About IVC Filters

A doctors reading up on IVC filtersIVC filters have been in use as far back as the 1960s, and over the years, serial modifications have been done to make them easier to place and improve their effectiveness over time.

Based on medical guidelines, there has been a consensus these devices should only be used in patients with deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

This is because there have only been a limited number of trials that have been done to determine the effectiveness of IVC filters concerning other medical conditions.

You should also know a fractured IVC filter migration is not very common, and in cases where it happens, there are several organs it could lodge in or perforate. 

Apart from the heart and lungs, these organs include the liver, renal vein, right atrium, left and right pulmonary artery, right gonadal vein, and the aorta.

Another key point to note is that a CT scan is usually the first go-to test to detect a fractured IVC filter.

A radiological test is conducted to determine the depth of penetration of the IVC filter and help a surgeon decide whether to perform open or endovascular surgery.

You stand a prime chance of developing health complications if you have had an IVC filter implanted in you for a long time. 

This is why you should get the filter removed once you know longer suffer from pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis.

“Effective IVC filtering remains one of the toughest problems in the cardiovascular space. If left in the body, metal filters can create safety risks that increase dramatically over time. Retrievable filters partially address these concerns, but retrieval procedures are costly, complex, and frequently delayed.”
Duke Rohlen, Chief Executive Officer of Cordix-X

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Can an IVC Filter Get Clogged?

An IVC filter can get clogged with blood clots, which is usually a good sign that it is doing the job for which it was implanted. However, a clogged IVC filter should be replaced immediately so that it doesn’t lead to complications.

Can an IVC Filter Be Removed After 10 Years?

An IVC filter can be removed after 10 years, but at this point, the standard removal methods can no longer be used because the filter would have drastically affected your vein walls. A more complicated approach would have to be used to get it out.

Can an IVC Filter Cause Groin Pain?

An IVC filter can cause groin pain. When this happens, you might also encounter other pains, such as back pain and abdominal pain. These are signs that the IVC filter implant needs to be removed.

What Are Some Common Symptoms of IVC Filter Migration?

Some common symptoms of IVC filter migration include back pain, chest pain, chronic abdominal pain, neck pain, nausea, lightheadedness, confusion, low blood pressure, and arrhythmia.

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