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IVC Filters: The Most Common Malfunctions (and Signs of a Malfunction)

Are you worried that your IVC filter may be malfunctioning, but aren’t sure?

A malfunctioning IVC filter can be a very serious issue. An IVC filter, also known as an Inferior Vena Cava filter, is a small, cage-like device that’s implanted into the vein of a patient who is at risk for developing blood clots. These patients are not able to use blood thinners (also known as anticoagulants).

While IVC filters are generally safe, malfunction and failure do happen occasionally. If your IVC filter is malfunctioning, it’s very important that you take care of the issue before something serious happens.

How can you tell if your IVC filter is malfunctioning? Check out this guide to learn about the most common IVC filter malfunctions, as well as how to tell that you’re dealing with a  malfunction.

1. Clogged IVC Filter

One of the biggest issues people face with IVC filters is clogging. This occurs when the filter captures a blood clot and the clot creates a clog in the filter.

This can be very dangerous. People have even gotten into car accidents because of a clogged IVC filter. If you have been in an accident because of a blood clot issue in your IVC, you should contact your attorney.

Signs that you’re dealing with a clogged IVC filter include:

  • Leg pain
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Feeling of internal pressure in the legs

If you believe that your IVC filter is clogged, you should contact your doctor immediately. The good news of a clogged filter is that it means that the filter has done its job of capturing the blood clot. The bad news is that a clog likely means you’ll need your filter removed or replaced.

2. IVC Filter Migration

Filter migration is another issue that some people experience. A filter is considered to have migrated if it moves two centimeters or more from the placement location.

Migration can happen for several reasons. One of the most common reasons a filter migrates is because the vein is too large to hold the filter. Luckily, filter migration is rare and it occurs in less than one percent of cases.

Still, it’s important to be aware of the signs of filter migration. Typically, migration happens within the first month of placement, so it’s especially important to note the changes in your body during this time.

Severe leg pain and pain in your abdomen or back are the most common signs that you’re dealing with a filter migration. If you experience these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.

3. Failure to Open and Other Defects

Sometimes, the IVC filter fails to open completely. Failure to open can happen for several reasons and sometimes, it’s due to an error the doctor made during placement.

According to a 2016 study by the Journal of Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy, filters fail to open at a rate of 0.7 percent to 13.9 percent. Additionally, the study found that with a certain type of filter, known as the Titanium Greenfield Filter, failure to open rate is as high as an astonishing 71 percent. Luckily, most of these filters were recalled in 2005 by Boston Scientific.

If a filter fails to open, you will likely experience pain or complications in your lower extremities. Again, if you notice these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately.

As you can see, there are several issues that can occur with IVC filters. It’s important to remember that most IVC filters are placed correctly, and do not cause any complications. However, if you notice an issue, it’s important to contact your doctor immediately for an assessment.