The use of an Inferior Vena Cava, or IVC, filter to treat for deep vein Thromboembolism (DVT) due to a traumatic spinal chord injury (SCI), can actually put the patient more at risk. Recent studies by surgeons have determined that the use of an anticoagulant medication has been more effective than the implantation of an IVC filter. The determination is based on an analysis of several years of patient data. However, a retrospective chart review that was released years ago came to the same conclusion.
SCI patients are at a high risk for blood clots that travel to the heart or lungs. Because of this, patients are given an anticoagulant or made to wear compression stockings. These patients are at risk of DVI longer than other patients because their body fails to break down clots in the blood stream.
A study released in 1994 showed that over 30 percent of emergency embolism admissions were due to the occurrence in SCI patients – as much as 78 days after surgery.
For those who are fully or partially paralyzed, implantation of an IVC device began in 1991. Recent studies show that this long-standing practice has practically no value to the patient. In one study, the conclusion was that the IVC filter put the patients at greater risk for DVI. Meanwhile, most other studies concluded that the use of anticoagulant or other measures had the same rate of effectiveness as the use of an IVC. The other measures were less invasive.
These findings are well-known. However, despite this knowledge in the medical world, the practice continues at a higher rate than one might expect. Some physicians maintain that in addition to the fact the filters are not helping, there are many cases where the IVC may be the cause of the embolism. However, the symptoms may be difficult to notice and therefore the IVC causing the embolism may not be caught as often as it is occurring.
In the US, doctors continue to use IVC filters at a rate of 2500% over other areas of the developed world. These devices are used in spite of the current safety alerts released by the FDA and the continual studies showing their relative level of uselessness when compared with the alternative treatments available.
The danger of using these devices has become well-documented. Patients are being put at risk continually despite this knowledge, with no end in sight.
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