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Why aren’t more people after coronary bypass surgery given an SVC filter to prevent any blood clots from becoming a pulmonary embolism, since a DVT can suddenly break off and travel to the lungs?

Experience Hits Home

To this day I still wonder why my mother didn’t have an SVC filter placed after it was determined she had a “big DVT” in her neck after CABG. The DVT was detected via ultrasound while she was still in ICU.

Nothing was done. I was told there was a “slim” chance of it dislodging and becoming a pulmonary embolus.

And that’s true: a DVT post-CABG is rare, and it’s even rarer that it will ever embolize. A pulmonary embolus can cause sudden death.

However, placement of an SVC filter (think of a fishing net in the superior vena cava blood vessel, trapping blood clots, preventing them from getting into the lungs) is non-invasive and a 20 minute procedure!

“If patient not be anticoagulated and it is contraindicated, an SVC filter can be an option,” says Paul Lucas, MD, a surgeon with the Vascular Center and director of the Vascular Laboratory at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.

“Several studies have shown that it is a safe and viable option; it does however require very precise placement, as the SVC is a fairly short vessel as compared to the IVC [inferior vena cava].

Dr. Lucas leads a team of vascular surgeons and technologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diseased blood vessels.