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Retrievable Inferior Vena Cava Filters Are Rarely Removed

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There has been an increasing nationwide trend of inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement over the past 3 years. Most of these have been the newer, removable variety. Although these are marketed as retrievable, few are removed. The purpose of this study was to examine the practice pattern of IVC filter placement at Huntington Hospital. This study is a retrospective chart review of all IVC filter placements and removals between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2006. The primary data points include indication for placement, major complications (migration, caval thrombosis, pulmonary embolus [PE]), attempted removal, and successful removal. Three hundred ten patients received IVC filters at our institution during this period. Eighty-four were placed in 2004, 95 in 2005, and 131 in 2006. Of those, only 12 (3.9%) were documented permanent filters, whereas the remainder (298) were removable. Of the retrievable filters placed, only 11 (3.7%) underwent successful removal. There were four (1.3%) instances in which the filter could not be removed as a result of thrombus present within the filter and two (0.67%) in which removal was aborted as a result of technical difficulty. Our use of IVC filters has increased steadily over the last 3 years. Despite the rise in use of “removable” filter devices, few are ever retrieved. Although IVC filter insertion appears an effective method of PE prevention, it comes at a cost, both physiological and monetary. It would be wise to devise more stringent criteria to identify those patients in the various populations who truly require filter placement and to be cautious in altering our indications for placement.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From Huntington Memorial Hospital Surgical Services, Pasadena, California

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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