Inferior Vena Cava Filters to Prevent Pulmonary Embolism Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are widely used for prevention of pulmonary embolism (PE). However, uncertainty persists about their efficacy and safety. OBJECTIVES: The authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the published reports on the efficacy and safety of IVC filters. METHODS: The authors searched PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and through October 3, 2016, for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or prospective controlled observational studies of IVC filters versus none in patients at risk of PE. Inverse variance fixed-effects models with odds ratio (OR) as the effect measure were used for primary analyses. Main outcomes included subsequent PE, PE-related mortality, all-cause mortality, and subsequent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). RESULTS: The authors' search retrieved 1,986 studies, of which 11 met criteria for inclusion (6 RCTs and 5 prospective observational studies). Quality of evidence for RCTs was low to moderate. Overall, patients receiving IVC filters had lower risk for subsequent PE (OR: 0.50; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.33 to 0.75); increased risk for DVT (OR: 1.70; 95% CI: 1.17 to 2.48); nonsignificantly lower PE-related mortality (OR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.25 to 1.05); and no change in all-cause mortality (OR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.70 to 1.19). Limiting the results to RCTs showed similar results. Findings were substantively similar across a wide range of sensitivity analyses. CONCLUSIONS: Very few prospective controlled studies, with limited quality of evidence, exist regarding the efficacy and safety of IVC filters. Overall, filters appear to reduce the risk of subsequent PE, increase the risk for DVT, and have no significant effect on overall mortality.


  • Bikdeli, Behnood
  • Chatterjee, Saurav
  • Desai, Nihar R
  • Kirtane, Ajay J
  • Desai, Mayur M
  • Bracken, Michael B
  • Spencer, Frederick
  • Monreal, Manuel
  • Goldhaber, Samuel Z
  • Krumholz, Harlan M

publication date

  • September 2017