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Is it worth it to use inferior vena cava filters?

When Illinois patients present with symptoms that indicate that they may have a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, doctors often prescribe the use of an inferior vena cava filter. The inferior vena cava is the largest vein in the human body. It is responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood from the legs and lower abdomen back to the heart and lungs. The filter is placed here in order to prevent any emboli, or blood clots, from reaching the heart or lungs, a condition which can be deadly.  However, most individuals who speak with an Illinois medical malpractice attorney will find that these devices are not as safe or effective as many in the medical profession once believed them to be.

About the IVC filter

The filter is a small, conical device that doctors place just below the kidneys in the inferior vena cava. It stays in place with a pressure fit, and is designed to catch blood clots without obstructing the flow of blood through the vein and to the heart and lungs. Natural anticoagulants in the blood are supposed to break down any clots that the filter catches so that the vein itself does not become blocked. Today’s filters are retrievable, although many doctors continue to make medical mistakes and leave them in for years. These filters were designed to be temporary protections from the potential dangers of emboli until patients were able to be treated with anticoagulants.

Potentially deadly complications

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the use of inferior vena cava filters for treatment of deep vein thrombosis and as a preventative for potential embolism resulted in suboptimal outcomes. Out of 679 retrievable filters, only 58 were successfully removed, and an additional 13 were unsuccessfully retrieved. The remaining 608 filters were simply left in place. Additionally, 7.8 percent of patients experienced thrombotic events despite having the filters in place. Many of these filters were also placed after their highest bleeding risk had passed, a time when anti-coagulant blood thinners would have been the appropriate standard of care.

Federal warnings

Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recognized the potential dangers associated with IVC filters. They recently issued a warning stating that these filters should be removed as soon as medically possible because of the risks that they cause patients.  The FDA has amassed a file detailing the problems that have occurred with IVC filter use, including device migration, perforation of the vein, and detachment of the device’s components.

Those who have experienced negative side effects in conjunction with the use of an IVC filter should contact an attorney to discuss their matter. An Illinois medical malpractice attorney will have the resources and knowledge required to help victims receive adequate compensation for their damages.

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