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Original Investigation
January 2017

Association Between Inferior Vena Cava Filter Insertion in Trauma Patients and In-Hospital and Overall Mortality

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Hematology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Data Coordinating Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Surg. 2017;152(1):75-81. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.3091
Key Points

Question  Does insertion of an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter in trauma patients affect mortality?

Findings  This cohort study demonstrated no statistically significant difference in overall survival between trauma patients who did and did not receive an IVC filter.

Meaning  Inferior vena cava filters should not be placed in trauma patients in an attempt to improve overall survival.


Importance  Trauma patients admitted to the hospital are at increased risk of bleeding and thrombosis. The use of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters in this population has been increasing, despite a lack of high-quality evidence to demonstrate their efficacy.

Objective  To determine if IVC filter insertion in trauma patients affects overall mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This retrospective cohort study used stratified 3:1 propensity matching to select a control population similar to patients who underwent IVC filter insertion at Boston Medical Center (a level I trauma center at Boston University School of Medicine) between August 1, 2003, and December 31, 2012. Among patients with an IVC filter and matched controls, age, sex, race/ethnicity, and Injury Severity Score were entered into a multivariable logistic regression model to calculate a propensity score. Matching was stratified by the date of injury.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Multivariable logistic regression was used to compare hospital mortality across both groups, adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, Injury Severity Score, and brain injury severity using the head and neck Abbreviated Injury Score. To determine any significant difference in mortality, patient characteristics and mortality data from the National Death Index were analyzed in all patients and in those who survived 24, 48, and 72 hours after injury, as well as at hospital discharge.

Results  Among 451 trauma patients with an IVC filter and 1343 matched controls without an IVC filter, the mean (SD) age was 47.4 (21.5) years. The median Injury Severity Score overall was 24 (range, 1-75). Based on a mean follow-up of 3.8 years (range, 0-9.4 years), there was no significant difference in overall mortality or cause of mortality in patients with vs without an IVC filter who survived more than 24 hours from the time of injury, independent of the presence or absence of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism at the time of IVC filter placement. Additional analyses at shorter intervals of 6 months and 1 year after discharge also showed no significant difference between the 2 groups of patients. Eight percent (38 of 451) of the IVC filters were removed at Boston Medical Center during the follow-up period.

Conclusions and Relevance  The research herein demonstrates no significant difference in survival in trauma patients with vs without placement of an IVC filter, whether in the presence or absence of venous thrombosis. 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.