The prophylactic use of inferior vena cava filters in patients undergoing high-risk spinal surgery

Luis Leon, Heron Rodriguez, Rabih G. Tawk, Stephen L. Ondra, Nicos Labropoulos, Mark D. Morasch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Prophylactic inferior vena cava filter (IVCF) placement is advocated in some high-risk groups. We sought data regarding safety and efficacy for prophylactic IVCF placement in patients at high risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) following major spinal reconstruction. Seventy-four spine surgery patients with contraindication to anticoagulation (44 females, 30 males; mean age 56.2) received prophylactic IVCFs. Criteria were (1) history of thromboembolism, (2) diagnosed thrombophilia, (3) malignancy, (4) bedridden >2 weeks prior to surgery, (5) staged procedures or multiple levels, (6) combined anterior/posterior approaches, (7) expected need for significant iliocaval manipulation during exposure, and (8) single-stage anesthetic time >8 hr. Seventy patients had at least two risk factors. All received IVCFs prior to the first stage of spine reconstruction. Patients were evaluated for filter complications, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and pulmonary embolism (PE). Patients' lower extremity veins from groin to ankle were imaged weekly until discharge using duplex ultrasound (DUS). One-third also underwent thoracic and pelvic computed tomography scans, and the pelvic veins, IVC, and pulmonary vasculature were evaluated for VTE. Multiple DUS (n∈=∈198, mean 2.6 studies per patient) were performed in 68 patients. At a mean follow-up of 11 months, one of the patients developed PE. Twenty-seven limbs in 23 patients developed DVT. Five limbs had isolated calf DVT, and 22 had proximal vein involvement. Insertion site DVT accounted for nearly one-third of the DVTs. Six patients died from unrelated complications. There was one technical error with an IVCF deployed in the iliac vein. Despite a high incidence of DVT following high-risk spinal surgery, prophylactic IVCF placement appears to protect patients from PE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-447
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of vascular surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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