Out of sight, out of mind: An audit of inferior vena cava filter insertion and clinical follow up in an Australian institution and literature review

X L Tan, Constantine S Tam, Ross P V Mckellar, Harshal Hanumant Nandurkar, Mohammad Ali Bazargan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are increasingly used to treat venous thromboembolism when there are contraindications or failure to respond to anticoagulant therapy. Retrievable filters were introduced to avoid long-term complications and risks associated with permanent filters. However, failure to follow up patients appropriately can lead to low retrieval rates. Aims: To examine the practice of our institution in using retrievable IVC filters and to provide a review of published literature. Methods: Retrospective audit of medical records in a single medical institution. Results: Forty-one patients had retrievable IVC filters inserted. The median age of patients was 67. The majority (78 ) of patients had filters inserted for presence of venous thromboembolism and contraindication to anticoagulation. Twenty-five (61 ) patients received no clinical follow up. Factors associated with loss to follow up include a lack of documentation for retrieval plan (P <0.01), lack of haematology outpatient clinic review (P <0.01) and age greater than 50 years (P <0.01). Procedural success was achieved in nine of 11 attempted filter removals. Eighteen complications were noted among patients. IVC filter insertion failed to prevent recurrent pulmonary embolisms in three patients. Conclusions: Majority of retrievable IVC filters will become lost to clinical follow up. Rates of attempted retrieval within 1 year of filter insertion are low. Loss to follow up is associated with older age, lack of documentation and lack of haematology clinic review post discharge. This study highlights the importance of a structured system to document clearly the review and retrieval plans for patients with IVC filters, at the time of initial insertion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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