Retrievable vena cava filters: A clinical review

Marianne Tschoe, Hyun S. Kim, Daniel Brotman, Michael B Streiff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Vena cava filters were developed as a method of preventing pulmonary embolism (PE) in patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE) at risk for bleeding from therapeutic anticoagulation. However, the long-term complications of filter placement, such as caval thrombosis, have mitigated some of the benefits, particularly in those patients with only a temporary contraindication to anticoagulation. Retrievable filters were designed to avoid the long-term risks of a permanent filter while still providing short-term protection against PE. As a result, their use has expanded from patients with known thrombosis to those without VTE who are at high risk for developing PE. In this review, we discuss the different types of retrievable filters, indications for their placement, complications that can occur during and after placement, and their use as prophylaxis in surgical patients. Although the use of retrievable filters in patients with known VTE is clear, further studies are needed to establish their prophylactic efficacy in the surgical patient. Until this evidence is available, we recommend that retrievable filters should be used only in patients with acute VTE who are at risk for recurrent thromboembolism and have a transient risk for bleeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-448
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hospital Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009



  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Retrievable vena cava filter
  • Venous thromboembolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Care Planning
  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Leadership and Management

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