Statewide Inferior Vena Cava Filter Placement, Complications, and Retrievals: Epidemiology and Recent Trends

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Public awareness of inferior vena cava (IVC) filter-related controversies has been elevated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety communication in 2010.


To examine population level trends in IVC filter utilization, complications, retrieval rates, and subsequent pulmonary embolism (PE) risk.


A retrospective cohort study.


Patients receiving IVC filters during 2005–2014 in New York State.


IVC filter-specific complications, new PE occurrences and IVC filter retrievals were evaluated as time-to-event data using Kaplan-Meier analysis. Estimated cumulative risks were obtained at various timepoints during follow-up.


There were 91,873 patients receiving IVC filters between 2005 and 2014 in New York State included in the study. The average patient age was 67 years and 46.6% were male. Age-adjusted rates of IVC filter placement increased from 48 cases/100,000 in 2005 to 52 cases/100,000 in 2009, and decreased afterwards to 36 cases/100,000 in 2014. The estimated risks of having an IVC filter-related complication and filter retrieval within 1 year was 1.5% [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.4%–1.6%] and 3.5% (95% CI, 3.4%–3.6%). One-year retrieval rate was higher post-2010 when compared with pre-2010 years (hazard ratio, 2.70; 95% CI, 2.50–2.91). Among the 58,176 patients who did not have PE events before or at the time of IVC filter placement, the estimated risk of developing subsequent PE at 1 year was 2.0% (95% CI, 1.9%–2.1%).


Our findings suggest that FDA communications may be effective in modifying statewide clinical practices. Given the 2% observed PE rate following prophylactic IVC filter placement, large scale pragmatic studies are needed to determine contemporary safety and effectiveness of IVC filters.

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