To determine the efficacy and safety of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters in preventing pulmonary embolism (PE) in high-risk patients undergoing hip or knee arthroplasty.
2857 hip or knee arthroplasty procedures between January 2013 and December 2018 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with a preoperative history of venous thromboembolism (VTE), either PE or deep venous thrombosis (DVT), were categorized as high-risk patients. The incidence of overall VTE, PE, and DVT were compared between patients with filters and those without. The subgroup analysis was also performed by patient risk, and filter status and the incidence of VTE, PE, and DVT were compared. Variables such as filter placement, history of hypercoagulability etcetra were evaluated as risk factors for the development of postoperative VTE.
In the high-risk group, the use of IVC filters was significantly associated with a lower incidence of pulmonary embolism (0.8% vs 5.5%, P = .028). When compared with the low-risk group, the high-risk group had significantly higher incidence of PE (3.8% vs 2.0%, P = .038), DVT (11.6% vs 5.3%, P < .001), and overall VTE (15.0% vs 6.8%, P < .001). The history of VTE was associated with postoperative VTE (P < .001), PE (P = .042), and DVT (P < .001). There was no significant correlation between filter placement and postoperative VTE, DVT, or PE in the low-risk group. Filter retrieval was successful in 100% (96/96) of attempted patients with no complications.
The use of IVC filters is significantly associated with a lower incidence in pulmonary embolism in high-risk arthroplasty patients. High-risk patients demonstrated an incidence of postoperative VTE over two times greater than other patients. Prophylactic placement of IVC filters in hip/knee arthroplasty is safe.

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