ALERT: Your health is top priority. We’re committed to providing reliable COVID-19 resources to keep you informed and safe.

IVC Filters Don’t Save Trauma Patients, Study Says

closeup of heart rate monitor and surgeons

Patients who suffered trauma and received inferior vena cava (IVC) filters to prevent blood clots in the lungs had no survival advantage, researchers reported.

The study published in JAMA Surgery showed no decrease in death rates in patients who received IVC filters to prevent pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis after trauma. To gather data, Dr. Shayna Sarosiek and colleagues at the Boston University School of Medicine reviewed information from 451 IVC recipients and 1,343 controls at Boston Medical Center.

Researchers found that IVC filters did not save a significant number of these patients and doctors removed just 8 percent of the filters after 3.8 years. This is a problem because the FDA recommends doctors remove these filters in about 60 days after initial placement.

IVC filters are small, spider-like metal cages placed in a patient’s inferior vena cava to prevent blood clots that form in the legs from traveling to the heart. Doctors use them to treat patients who cannot tolerate blood thinners. But this new study suggests doctors should rethink their use in trauma patients.

“The use of IVC filters in this population should be reexamined because filter removal rates are low and there is increased risk of morbidity in patients with filters that remain in place,” the investigators wrote. “Given the expected morbidity of long-term IVC filter use, filters should be removed as soon as a patient’s contraindication to anticoagulation resolves.”

In-hospital death of patients who received IVC filters was only 5.5 percent compared to 22 percent for the control group, however. But, patients who survived 72 hours after trauma with IVC placement did not have a lower mortality rate than those who did not.

“Overall, these data indicate that IVC filters should not be placed in trauma patients in an effort to decrease all-cause mortality,” study authors said.

Injured by complications related to an IVC filter? Get a Free Case Review

IVC Filters Carry Risks

Study authors also pointed out that long-term use of IVC filters has its risks.

“This information, coupled with a lack of good-quality data regarding improvement in short-term mortality, should cause clinicians to consider the significant risks and expenses associated with the insertion of IVC filters,” researchers said. “There are known risks of IVC filter placement, but morbidity associated with IVC filters that remain in place is a significant concern.”

Studies described deaths associated with filters left in patient’s veins including “IVC filter fracture, filter thrombosis, filter protrusion outside the IVC and lower-extremity venous thrombosis,” study authors said.

Device Failure Rates Lead to Lawsuits

Filter manufacturers such as C.R. Bard, Cook Medical and Boston Scientific now face lawsuits filed by patients who say the devices seriously injured them. Lawsuits point to studies that show these filters have high failure rates.

For example, 25 percent of Bard’s Recovery filters fractured or broke while inside patients. Another study showed all of Bard’s filters had a 12 percent failure rate. In studies, Cook Medical’s filters perforated patients’ vena cavas. They also migrated out of place in about 40 percent of patients.

One lawsuit against Boston Scientific alleges its Greenfield IVC filter caused severe injury that led to death. Cinthia K. Ratliff’s Greenfield IVC filter broke and perforated her vena cava, causing internal bleeding and death, according to court documents.

Michelle Llamas, Senior Content Writer
Written By Michelle Llamas Senior Writer

Michelle Llamas has been writing articles and producing podcasts about drugs, medical devices and the FDA for nearly a decade. She focuses on various medical conditions, health policy, COVID-19, LGBTQ health, mental health and women’s health issues. Michelle collaborates with experts, including board-certified doctors, patients and advocates, to provide trusted health information to the public. Some of her qualifications include:

  • Member of American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and former Engage Committee and Membership Committee member
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Literacy certificates
  • Original works published or cited in The Lancet, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and the Journal for Palliative Medicine

2 Cited Research Articles writers follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and interviews with qualified experts. Review our editorial policy to learn more about our process for producing accurate, current and balanced content.

  1. Sarosiek, S. et al. (2016, September 28). Association Between Inferior Vena Cava Filter Insertion in Trauma Patients and In-Hospital and Overall Mortality. Retrieved from
  2. Lou, N. (2016, September 28). IVC Filters Don't Save Lives in Trauma. Retrieved from
View All Sources
Call to speak with a legal expert
Who Am I Calling?

Calling this number connects you with one of Drugwatch's trusted legal partners. A law firm representative will review your case for free.

Drugwatch's trusted legal partners support the organization’s mission to keep people safe from dangerous drugs and medical devices. For more information, visit our partners page.

(833) 733-0578