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J Vasc Surg. 2008 Jan;47(1):157-165. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Changes in inferior vena cava filter placement over the past decade at a large community-based academic health center.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, William Beaumont Hospital, 3601 W. Thirteen Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073, USA.



A significant increase in the frequency of inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement at our large community-based academic health center led us to evaluate changes in indications, devices, and providers over the past decade.


A single-center retrospective review of all filter placements was performed comparing 76 patients in 1995 with 470 patients in 2005. Demographic data, provider data, filter type, and indications for placement were tabulated. Complications, follow-up evaluation, filter removal, and patient outcomes were examined.


There was a greater than sixfold increase in the number of filters placed in 2005 vs 1995. There were no significant differences in patient demographics or the extent of venous thromboembolic (VTE) disease during this period except for an increase in median age. Filter placement by interventional radiologists remained approximately 50% of the total whereas placement by vascular/trauma surgeons increased to 24% and placement by cardiologists decreased to 29% (P < .001). In 2005, a smaller percentage of filters were placed for absolute indications, while filter placements for relative and prophylactic indications increased over the same time period, especially among cardiologists (P = .02). Potentially retrievable filters are increasingly being used for prophylaxis; however, only 2.4% were retrieved. An increasing number of filters were placed in patients with only infrapopliteal deep venous thrombosis (P = .07). A shift was seen to lower profile and removable filter types. Long-term patient follow-up showed little change in disease progression or in morbidity and mortality of filter insertion.


Technological and practice pattern changes have led to an increase in filters inserted by vascular and trauma surgeons in the operating room and intensive care units. Increased diagnosis of VTE disease and newer low profile delivery systems in patients may also have contributed to the significant increase in filter placement. A shift in indications for placement from absolute toward relative indications and prophylaxis is evident over time and across providers, indicating the need for consensus development of appropriate criteria.

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