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Vena Cava Filters

Deepvein

Vena Cava Filters are devices designed to trap blood clots that can lead to a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE). The devices were first introduced in the late 1960’s, and since then have become an important tool to reduce the occurrence of PE. Basically, these filters are metallic, umbrella-shaped devices, or “tiny nets,” which help to prevent emboli from traveling through the heart and into the lungs. They are typically inserted into the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from the lower extremities. Vena cava filters are often used when drug therapy, such as treatment with blood-thinners, has failed or is considered inadequate, or when drug therapy would cause other dangerous medical conditions.

In most people, the procedure is usually complimented by drug therapy and is considered safe, effective and reduces the risk of pulmonary embolism. Many PE’s can result from a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is potentially fatal and should be treated as an emergency.

It is estimated that 200,000 to 300,000 deaths occur each year in the United States as a result of a pulmonary embolism. The American Public Health Association and the Center for Disease Control have reported that deaths attributed to PE in the United States each year exceed the deaths per year due to AIDS, breast cancer and highway fatalities combined.