Complications of inferior vena cava filters

Am Surg. 2003 Aug;69(8):654-9.


Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters offer a safe and effective means of preventing pulmonary embolus and have reduced complications when compared to earlier techniques of caval interruption. However, despite continued improvement in filters and insertion methods, complications still occur. Pneumothorax, hemorrhage, and vessel injury may result while obtaining vascular access. Filter misplacement, excessive tilt, and vascular injury have been reported with insertion, but preinsertion cavography is helpful in preventing these insertion-related complications. Attention to detail, proper use of guidewires, and preinsertion imaging are vital in preventing insertion-related complications as well. Long-term complications occur in a minority of patients and include recurrent pulmonary embolus, caval occlusion, and filter migration. Overall, the benefits of preventing pulmonary embolism far exceed the risks related to filter placement in properly selected patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Embolism / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Vena Cava Filters / adverse effects*
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control