Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Trauma. 2009 Dec;67(6):1293-6. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181b0637a.

Practice patterns in the use of retrievable inferior vena cava filters in a trauma population: a single-center experience.

Author information

  • 1Department of Surgery, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA.



The use of permanent inferior vena cava filters (IVCFs) offers protection against pulmonary embolism (PE) but increases the long-term risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and does not affect long-term mortality. The use of retrievable IVCFs in trauma patients offers the dual advantage of protection against PE during the risk period and the option of filter removal thus avoiding complications of DVT. Despite the safety of removal, it is likely that many of these retrievable filters are not removed.


This was a retrospective, single-center, observational cohort study at a rural level I trauma center. We sought to investigate the number of patients and the circumstances under which retrievable IVCFs were placed and removed.


During a 4-year period, 3,455 trauma patients were admitted and 125 patients had retrievable IVCFs placed (71 therapeutic and 54 prophylactic). The most common indications were traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries (66%). During in-hospital filter use, there were 36 new incidences (29%) of PE (1) and DVT (35). Nine patients died before removal. In 40 patients (32%), removal was attempted, and 32 (26%) retrievable IVCFs were successfully removed and in most patients (76%) within 180 days of insertion. Seventeen patients were transferred out of the area for extended care and lost to follow-up. In 55 patients, the filters were not removed. In 20 patients, the surgeon decided against removal. Thirty patients were transferred to extended care or rehabilitation within the community, but they did not return for removal. Thus, of 108/125 patients with follow-up, 76 patients (70%) did not have their IVCFs removed, and 50 patients did not have their IVCFs removed because of the choice of the surgeon, extended care, or rehabilitation.


The use of retrievable IVCFs, when necessary, produced predictable protection against PE and DVT complications. Despite the opportunity for removal, most patients, in fact, did not have their filters removed, even when posthospital care could be tracked. The practices of the surgeon, the transfer to extended-care facilities, near or far, and the reluctance to remove long-standing IVCFs contributed to the high-retention rate.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center