March 2, 2014 — The Journal of the American College of Cardiology has published a study linking the use of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters to a lower risk of pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs), but a higher risk of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Conclusions were based on data from 344 people who were implanted with an IVC filter, matched with 344 patients treated without a filter. All of the patients had VTE.
The risk of death was similar between the two groups at about 6-10%. Researchers noticed a significant difference in the rate of pulmonary embolism and VTE in the 30 days after the filter was implanted:
- Pulmonary embolism occurred in 1.7% of IVC filter patients, vs. 4.9% of non-filter patients.
- Recurrent VTE occurred in 6.1% of IVC filter patients, vs. 0.06% of non-filter patients.
The study was too small for researchers to say that IVC filters caused recurrent VTE. However, it is concerning because VTE is a very serious medical condition that can have life-threatening complications.
What is Venous Thromboembolism?
Venous thromboembolism is a disease that occurs when blood clots form in the lower legs (a condition called deep vein thrombosis or DVT) and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. The condition often results in long-term complications like post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS), organ damage, disability, or death.
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