The placement of superior vena cava (SVC) filters to prevent pulmonary emboli (PE) from upper-extremity deep vein thrombosis (UEDVT), although controversial, has been reported. A total of 21 publications were identified that reported 209 SVC filters and documented eight major filter-related complications (3.8%), including four cardiac tamponades, two aortic perforations, and one recurrent pneumothorax. The in-hospital or 1-month mortality rate was 43.1%. Twenty-eight additional publications were identified that reported 3,747 cases of UEDVT. The rates of PE and associated mortality were 5.6% and 0.7%, respectively. Studies imaging both upper and lower extremities found deep vein thrombus 14.7 times more likely to occur in the lower extremities and the rate of PE from a lower-extremity thrombus to be 25.1%. The lack of evidence documenting the risk from UEDVT and the absence of data supporting the safety and efficacy of SVC filters bring their benefit into question.
Copyright (c) 2010 SIR. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.