What is an IVCF?
Intravenous Vena Cava Filters are small wire, cage-like structures which are surgically placed in the inferior vena cava, which is a large blood vessel carrying blood from the lower body back to the heart. The purpose of these filters is to trap and break up any substantial blood clots that might have formed in the lower extremities of the body (most often in the legs or the pelvic region) and then travel through the blood vessels to other areas of the body.
What is the problem?
Numerous adverse incidents (See: Reports of Bard Recovery fracture) have been reported with these filters. The problems include:
- movement of the IVC filter from the site where it was implanted and intended to stay (referred to as filter migration)
- IVC filter breakage (referred to as fracturing) and therefore not functioning properly to catch clots
- either the whole filter or parts that have broken off moving through the blood vessels and lodging in the lungs thereby causing a very serious version of the situation they were intended to prevent: blood clots in the lungs (called pulmonary embolisms)
- piercing of the blood vessel wall (referred to as perforation)
- extreme difficulty surgically removing the IVC filter from the body
What are some of the possible serious health symptoms?
All patients with an IVC Filter should be monitored regularly to determine if the device is still intact and functioning properly. Many people are unaware that their IVC filter has either dislodged from its original placement or parts of it have broken off (fractured) and moved (migrated) to another location in the body, possibly lodging in the heart or the lungs.
- Severe or persistent chest pain, including pleuritic chest pain (pain when inhaling or exhaling)
- Tachycardia (consistent rapid heart rate)
- Shortness of breath
- Neck pain, confusion, lightheadedness, and or nausea
- Sudden onset of coughing (may produce blood)