Study Design. Retrospective case series.
Objective. To evaluate the safety and efficacy of prophylactic inferior vena cava filter (IVCF) to prevent pulmonary embolism (PE) in high risk patients undergoing major complex spinal surgery.
Summary of Background Data. PE has been reported to be the major cause of death after spinal reconstructive surgery. Mechanical prophylaxis alone is often not sufficient whereas anticoagulation therapy carries a significant risk of bleeding complications. Prophylactic IVCF placement is advocated in high-risk patients.
Methods. A total of 129 high-risk patients undergoing complex spine surgery, having prophylactic IVCF were compared to a matched cohort of age, diagnosis, and risk factors of 193 patients for whom only mechanical prophylaxis was used. Patients were observed for potential complications related to the IVCF and also for clinical signs and symptoms of PE.
Results. Eight cases (4.2%) of symptomatic PE were detected in the matched cohort control group (5 cases having combined anterior + posterior surgery and 3 patients having only posterior surgery). One of them died due to massive PE (0.5%). Symptomatic PE was detected in only 2 patients (1.5%), having combined anterior + posterior surgery due to lumbar spinal stenosis in IVCF group who responded well to medical treatment (P < 0.05). No complications were associated with filter insertion.
Conclusion. Prophylactic IVCF is effective and safe in prevention of pulmonary embolism in patients with risk factors for PE.