Do any of you have an IVC (inferior vena cava) Filter?
If so, are you on the blood thinner coumadin "for life"?
Did you have a DVT (deep vein thrombosis = blood clot) in your leg, and then your doctors decided to put an IVC filter in to protect you from a PE (pulmonary embolism)?
Or did your doctors insert the IVC filter soon after your accident to help protect you, in case you developed a DVT in the future, from further complications?
You don't need to read any further unless you are interested in DVTs and related stuff......
Patients in the intensive care unit are often at high risk of developing blood clots in their legs. These are a bad thing because sometimes a piece of the blood clot breaks off and floats through the bloodstream up to the heart/lungs, and can get lodged in a blood vessel going to the lung. This is called a pulmonary embolism. A blockage in a blood vessel to the lung can put a large strain on the heart and lungs, and can be fatal. Not good.
To try to prevent blood clots from happening, hospitals have become more vigilant and put patients on a low dose of a blood thinner to try to prevent blood clots from happening. Often they use ted hose/compression stockings or those annoying alternating compression boots that help the blood in the venous system move back up through the legs and back to the heart (and may prevent blood clots through other mechanisms as well).
There are some patients that are extremely high risk for forming blood clots. These include trauma patients, post-surgical patients (especially after an orthopedic surgery - like a spine surgery or a hip replacement), and patients with acute spinal cord injury among others.
When my dad was hit by a taxi he had multiple fractures as well as a spinal cord injury. He was in the ICU and was considered to be very high risk for having a blood clot since he had all of those high risk factors listed above. And unfortunately they couldn't use any blood thinners to try to protect him since he was bleeding in many places (including the brain) and was going in and out of surgery.
I suspect there were a few of you in a similar position after your accident, if you were involved in a trauma.
So the doctors decided to place an IVC filter in him to protect him from the possible complication of a PE, since the chance of him getting a DVT was so high. This decision is still a little controversial, but as best as I can tell it is being done more and more at experienced medical centers.
An IVC filter is basically like a sieve that sits in your vena cava (the big blood vessel that drains blood from your legs back to your heart), and in theory, would "catch" any small blood clots that might form/dislodge before they reach your heart.
As expected, my father was discovered to have a huge DVT in his leg a couple weeks later. He never developed any complications from it (like a PE), likely because of the IVC filter. By the time the DVT was discovered, it was safe for him to be placed one of the strong blood thinners that are used to treat DVTs (Lovenox). He was continued on coumadin (or the equivalent) for 6 months.
The question now that is being discussed among his doctors is how long anti-coagulation (ie coumadin or lovenox) should be continued. Does he need to be on coumadin for the rest of his life, or is he done? It turns out the presence of an IVC filter in your body actually increases your chances of getting another blood clot in the future (!bad luck...), and also having a DVT once increases your chances of having another one, and perhaps having a spinal cord injury and being less mobile increases your risk as well.
The answer is not clear, and there are pros and cons, as blood thinners are not without risk/difficulties. Basically, we have gotten like 6 different answers from his 6 different doctors. I think we have decided what to do, but we were most curious what others with spinal cord injury and IVC filters have been advised? Of course, most of my dad's doctors are not familiar with spinal cord injury and its associated issues.