A meta-study that reviewed 11 previous studies concludes that it is effective
The standard treatment for controlling deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism is anticoagulants.
However, in some people these medications can be counterproductive, which is when installation of an inferior vena cava filter is considered. This small metal device is placed inside the vena cava to impede the passage of a broken thrombus (which otherwise would go to the lung where it might cause an embolism). The specialist inserts the filter through a puncture in the groin or neck under local anaesthesia.
Although these filters have been used in the treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) for years, there have been few studies in the medical literature evaluating their effectiveness.
In order to support the validity of IVC filters, a team coordinated by Dr Behnood Bikdeli, a physician at the Columbia University School of Medicine, analysed 11 studies on the use of the vena cava filter (three of them carried out by the RIETE Group).
Their conclusions, recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, indicate that the vena cava filter is useful and effective in preventing pulmonary embolism, although it slightly increases the risk of thrombosis.
When a doctor must choose whether to protect the patient against a possible new pulmonary embolism or a potential new thrombosis, the choice is clear: avoid any new embolism, which can be deadly (whereas thrombosis is not).
To find out how much you know about the VTE we have made a little quiz. Are you ready?
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