Study Questions Routine Use of IVC Filters in Trauma

Published on February 8, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

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Hospitals routinely use IVC filters to prevent pulmonary embolism in trauma patients. However, a new study is raising questions about the wisdom of this practice.

IVC filters are small, wire cage-like devices that are implanted into the inferior vena cava. Once implanted, the devices are able to intercept blood clots before they can travel to the heart and lungs. Many of these devices are retrievable, and are intended to be removed from the body once the patient is no longer at risk for pulmonary embolism.

Trauma patients are at high risk for blood clots and pulmonary embolism. However, because they often require emergency surgery, they are not good candidates for traditional anticoagulants due to the potential for internal bleeding. As such, trauma doctors often opt to implant IVC filters in these patients on a temporary basis, until they are able to tolerate blood-thinning medications.

The JAMA Surgery study tracked the use of IVC filters at a Level-1 trauma center at Boston University School of Medicine between 2003 and 2002 to determine if the devices improved a patient’s odds of survival.  According to the analysis, IVC filters did nothing to improve survival rates in patients  who had already survived for 24 hours. No improvement was noted at six months follow-up, or after one year.

“The research herein demonstrates no significant difference in survival in trauma patients with vs without placement of an IVC filter, whether in the presence or absence of venous thrombosis,” the authors of the study wrote. “The use of IVC filters in this population should be reexamined because filter removal rates are low and there is increased risk of morbidity in patients with filters that remain in place.”

IVC Filter Litigation

According to, thousands of IVC filter lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts on behalf of patients who suffered serious injuries allegedly related to devices marketed by C.R. Bard, Inc. and Cook Medical, Inc. Plaintiffs claim that the companies knew or should have known that their blood clot filters were likely to fracture, tilt, perforate the vena cava wall and/or migrate, resulting in serious injury to patients. They further claim that Bard and Cook Medical failed to disclose these risks, and continued to market the devices as safe, even after studies highlighted their potential dangers.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP provides free legal reviews to the victims of serious IVC filter complications. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to a malfunctioning Bard blood clot filter, please call (888) 674-0093 to contact an attorney today.


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