Do Prophylactic Inferior Vena Cava Filters Affect the Rates of Venous Thromboembolism and Pulmonary Embolism in Patients Undergoing Major Spine Surgery?

Chase C. Woodward, Michael Eby, Rikesh Gandhi, Stephen M. Plachta, Keith Baldwin, Brendan M. Holderread, Harvey E. Smith, Vincent Arlet, Comron Saifi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Study Design: Retrospective Analysis Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) represents a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in major spine surgery. Placement of prophylactic inferior vena cava filters (IVCF) in patients undergoing major spine surgery was previously adopted at our institution. This study reports our experience and compares VTE rates between patients with and without preoperative IVCF placement. Methods: A Retrospective comparative study was conducted on adult patients who underwent IVCF placement and those who did not prior to their spinal fusion procedure, between 2013 and 2016. Thoracolumbar fusions (anterior and/or posterior) of 7 or more levels, spinal osteotomies, and a minimum of a 3-month follow-up were included. Traumatic, oncologic, and cervical pathology were excluded. Primary outcomes measured included the incidence of overall VTE (DVT/PE), death, IVCF related complications, and IVCF retrieval. Results: 386 patients who underwent major spine surgery, 258 met the eligibility criteria. Of those patients, 105 patients (40.7%) had prophylactic IVCF placement. All patients had postoperative SCDs and chemoprophylaxis. The presence of an IVCF was associated with an increased rate of overall VTE (14.3% vs 6.5%, P ≤.05) and DVT episodes (8.6% vs 2.6%, P =.04). The rate of PE for the IVCF group and non-IVCF group was 8.6% and 4.6%, respectively, which was not statistically significant (P =.32). The all-cause mortality rate overall of 2.3% was statistically similar between both groups (P = 1.0). The IVCF group had higher rates of hematoma/seroma vs the non-IVCF group (12.4% vs 3.9%, P ≤.05). 99 IVCFs were retrievable designs, and 85% were successfully retrieved. Overall IVCF-related complication rate was 11%. Conclusions: No statistical difference in PE or mortality rates existed between the IVCF and the control group. Patients with IVCF placement experienced approximately twice the rate of VTE and three times the rate of DVT compared to those without IVCF. The IVCF-related complication rate was 11%. Based on the results of this study, the authors recommend against the routine use of prophylactic IVCFs in adults undergoing major spine surgery. Level of Evidence: III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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