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Intracardiac Migration of Inferior Vena Cava Filters: Review of Published Data

Charles A. Owens, MD, FCCP; James T. Bui, MD; M-Grace Knuttinen, MD, PhD; Ron C. Gaba, MD; Tami C. Carrillo, MD; Nickoleta Hoefling, MD; Jennifer E. Layden-Almer, MD
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: From the Departments of Radiology (Drs. Owens, Bui, Knuttinen, Gaba, Carrillo, and Hoefling) and Medicine (Dr. Layden-Almer), Division of Interventional Radiology, University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago, IL.

Correspondence to: Charles A. Owens, MD, FCCP, Division of Interventional Radiology (M/C 931), University of Illinois Medical Center, 1740 West Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60612; e-mail: cowens@uic.edu


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2009 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2009;136(3):877-887. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0153
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Background:  Intracardiac or intrapulmonary migration of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters is an uncommon although potentially life-threatening event that is poorly understood.

Methods:  We searched the medical literature and extracted data detailing information concerning the event, including the cause and treatment of the filter migration. Our data were summarized with respect to the filter type, presenting symptoms, associated morbidity and mortality, and success and failure of the treatment provided.

Results:  Ninety-eight cases of intracardiac or intrapulmonary migration of IVC filters were identified in 77 publications.

Conclusions:  Intracardiac and intrapulmonary migration of IVC filters is an uncommon event the etiology of which has been attributed to a variety of causes including operator error, device failure, and patient's physical attributes. Although there is no consensus on patient management, we offer that open thoracotomy has several advantages over the endovascular approach and may provide the best first option. Whenever the patient is not a surgical candidate, endovascular retrieval has been demonstrated to be a relatively safe and viable alternative.

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