Retrievable IVC filters may migrate, fracture; number of lawsuits climbs

posted on:
March 29, 2017

Melissa Prickett

melissa prickett1 Retrievable IVC filters may migrate, fracture; number of lawsuits climbsThe Jere Beasley Report confirmed this month there are currently more than 1,500 lawsuits pending in courts throughout the country against the manufacturers of retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filters.

Permanent IVC filters have been in use since the 1960s with few complications. However, retrievable IVC filters have a high rate of failure. Potential complications from retrievable IVC filters include device fracture, migration, and perforation of the inferior vena cava, which can lead to embolism, organ damage, and death.

These cage-like devices are implanted in the inferior vena cava – the body’s largest vein. Designed to catch blood clots before they reach vital organs such as the heart and lungs, these devices are used when blood thinners are not an option.

Billy J.S. received one of these devices – a C.R. Bard Recovery® Vena Cava Filter – in 2007. Billy’s filter was implanted two years after the device was quietly pulled from the market. The Alabama man became one of the most recent to file suit over the device, according to The manufacturer of Billy’s filter, C.R.Bard, never recalled the device and failed to issue safety warnings to doctors and patients about the accompanying health and safety risks.

In August 2010, three years after Billy received his filter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally warned that retrievable IVC filters should be implanted only for short-term use because of their tendency to deteriorate and fracture over time. Billy’s Recovery filter has been linked to the highest fracture rate of any IVC filter, according to research by NBC News.

Fractured pieces of a broken IVC filter can move through the body and potentially cause life-threatening injuries of their own. The flawed design has earned the device the moniker “deadly missiles.”

Findings from a 2016 study cited by the scientific journal JAMA Surgery suggested doctors should reconsider using IVC filters in trauma patients altogether. The study revealed IVC filter use did not indicate any significant difference in a patient’s survival, but low removal rates could increase the risk to the patient’s health and safety.

If you would like more information about IVC filters, contact Melissa Prickett, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at

Jere Beasley Report (March 2017)
NBC News
The JAMA Network Surgery

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