Inferior vena cava filters in the management of cancer-associated venous thromboembolism: a systematic review

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Rachna Raman *
Philip D. Leming
Manish Bhandari
Daniel Long
Michael B. Streiff
(*) Corresponding Author:
Rachna Raman |


This study systematically reviews outcomes after inferior vena cava (IVC) filtration in cancer-associated venous thromboembolism (VTE). A comprehensive review of the English language literature was performed using MEDLINE, COCHRANE library, Embase and CINAHL on outcomes (i.e., pulmonary embolism, recurrent DVT, postphlebitic syndrome and survival) following IVC filtration in cancer-associated VTE. Fourteen studies with 2,154 cancer patients receiving IVC filters post-VTE were included. All were observational studies. The mean duration of followup was 0.7–38 months and mean patient age was 56.8– 68 years. Among study participants, 47–87% had stage 3 or 4 cancers. Of the 47–93% of filters inserted for contraindications to anticoagulation (AC), 10–33% were placed for relative contraindications. Recurrent PE was seen in 0–6%, fatal PE in 0–4.5%, recurrent DVT in 0–18.2%, postphlebitic syndrome (PPS) in 0–2.7%, and IVC thrombosis (ICVT) in 3% of cancer patients. Median survival post-filter insertion was 2–10 months. Evidence supporting the utility of IVC filter insertion in cancer-associated VTE is limited to observational studies only. Preliminary data demonstrate similar safety and efficacy of filters in cancer and noncancer populations. The combination of filters and anticoagulation is no more effective than either modality alone. Retrievable filters are an attractive option for prevention of VTE in the presence of temporary risk factors or temporary contraindications to anticoagulation in patients who have a reasonable life expectancy, but there is no evidence to support their preferential use in patients with advanced malignancy.

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