Complications of indwelling retrievable versus permanent inferior vena cava filters

J Vasc Surg Venous Lymphat Disord. 2014 Apr;2(2):166-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jvsv.2013.10.050. Epub 2014 Jan 16.


Objective: Retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are appealing because they are designed for either retrieval or long-term use. However, the long-term safety of indwelling retrievable compared with permanent filters is largely unknown. This study was undertaken to compare complication rates and types associated with indwelling retrievable and permanent filters.

Methods: A retrospective review identified 1234 IVC filters (449 retrievable, 785 permanent) placed in 1225 patients from 2005 to 2010. Patients with retrievable filters removed electively were excluded, yielding 383 patients in whom retrievable filters were left in place. These patients with indwelling retrievable filters were compared with those with permanent filters with respect to demographics, comorbidities, survival, and complication rate and type. Differences in patient characteristics were tested with χ(2), Fisher exact, and Wilcox rank-sum tests. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of complications. Because there were differences in the characteristics of the patients with indwelling retrievable filters and permanent filters, an additional propensity score analysis was performed yielding 319 patients in each group.

Results: Patients with indwelling retrievable filters were younger than those with permanent filters (mean age, 62 vs 75 years; P < .0001). Patients with indwelling retrievable filters had significantly more complications than those with permanent filters (9% vs 3.0%; P < .0001) after mean follow-up of 20 months (range, 0-86 months). Filter complications were categorized as thrombotic, device related, or systemic. While the most common complication type with both indwelling retrievable and permanent filters was thrombotic (4.4% vs 2.2%; P = NS), device-related complications were significantly more common with indwelling retrievable filters compared with permanent filters (3% vs 0.5%; P < .006). Propensity score analysis demonstrated that even in the matched groups, indwelling retrievable filters were associated with significantly more complications than permanent filters (9.1% vs 3.5%; P = .0035).

Conclusions: Indwelling retrievable IVC filters were associated with significantly higher complication rates than permanent filters. Both thrombotic and device-related complications were more common with retrievable filters. Long-term use of retrievable filters should be avoided, especially considering the younger population in whom they are placed.