How many hospital patients would die from a pulmonary embolism every year if from this point on, all surgery patients received an IVC filter — patients undergoing surgeries that increase the risk of a DVT?

Surgeries that strongly increase the risk of a deep vein thrombosis include knee replacement, hip replacement, abdominal and cardiothoracic.

Inferior Venacava Filter

The IVC filter prevents a pulmonary embolism from developing by “trapping” a migrating DVT before it can enter a lung. The IVC filter will not prevent development of deep vein thromboses.

IVC Filter

For this article I consulted with Seyed-Mojtaba Gashti, MD, a board certified vascular surgeon with Broward Health Medical Center in Florida.

Use of IVC Filters Prophylactically to Prevent Pulmonary Embolism

“We are doing this more and more in patients who are at very high risk for DVT (such as obese patients) or those who cannot be adequately anti-coagulated.”

Some patients, such as trauma, are at high risk for dangerous internal bleeding if put on blood thinners.

“These filters are retrievable and would prevent a PE if they were to develop a DVT. Once they have recovered, the filter can be removed.”

Placement of the IVC filter for high risk patients has been the medical standard for years.

For example, a patient undergoing hip replacement may have a genetic blood clotting disorder that puts that person at high risk for a DVT even in normal everyday life. Such a patient would get the IVC filter.

However, placement of IVC filters is not the norm, not the standard, for the typical patient — one who does not have a high risk for DVT outside of what risk the surgery will bring on.

But such patients are not immune to DVT, and many indeed develop a blood clot that then becomes a pulmonary embolism.

Dr. Gashti specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease including abdominal and aortic aneurysm.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.