The purpose of this study was to assess the long-term clinical sequelae of inferior vena cava (IVC) filter thrombus and the effect of anticoagulation on filter thrombus. Of 1, 718 patients who had IVC filters placed during 2001-2008, 598 (34.8%) had follow-up abdominal CT. Filter thrombus was seen in 111 of the 598 (18.6%). There were 44 men (39.6%). The mean age at filter placement was 64 years. The medical diseases included cancer in 64, trauma in 15, stroke in 12, and others in 20. The frequency of filter thrombus on CT and asymptomatic filter thrombus on CT was calculated. The frequency of pulmonary embolism (PE) in patients with filter thrombus was calculated. The frequency of thrombus progression or regression (on CT, available in 56) was calculated. The effect of anticoagulation on filter thrombus regression/progression was evaluated using the Fisher exact test by comparing the group of patients who received anticoagulants versus those who did not. A P-value of <0.05 was considered significant. The overall frequency of filter thrombus was 18.6%. Total occlusion of the IVC filter was seen in 12 of 598 (2%). The filter thrombus was asymptomatic in 110 (18.3%). Filter thrombus was detected after a median of 35 days (range, 0-2082) following filter placement. Thrombus extended above the filter in 4 (3.6%); IVC thrombus below the filter was seen in 35(31.5%). Thrombus in the filter occluded <25% of the filter volume in 58 (52.3%), 25-50% in 21 (18.9%), and 50-75% in 20 (18%). Total IVC occlusion was seen in 12 (10.8%). Eighty-three patients received anticoagulation. Sixteen patients developed symptoms of PE. PE was confirmed on CT in 3 of 15 (2.7%). On follow-up, filter thrombus regressed completely in 19 (33.9%) after a median of 6 months. Filter thrombus decreased in size in 13 (23.2%) and it progressed without IVC occlusion in 7 (12.6%). In one (1.7%), filter thrombus progressed to IVC occlusion. Filter thrombus remained stable in 16 (28.6%). There was no significant difference in thrombus regression or progression rates whether or not the patients received anticoagulation for filter thrombus. In conclusion, asymptomatic thrombus in the filter is common and it rarely progresses to complete caval occlusion. Anticoagulation has little effect on the resolution of filter thrombosis and future occurrence of PE.
- Deep venous thrombosis
- Filter thrombus
- Inferior vena cava filter
- Pulmonary embolism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine