Inferior vena cava filters (IVCFs) can prevent pulmonary embolism (PE); however, indications for use vary. The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma (EAST) 2002 guidelines suggest prophylactic IVCF use in high-risk patients, but the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) 2008 guidelines do not. This analysis compares cost-effectiveness of prophylactic vs therapeutic retrievable IVCF placement in high-risk trauma patients.
Markov modeling was used to determine incremental cost-effectiveness of these guidelines in dollars per quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) during hospitalization and long-term follow-up. Our population was 46-year-old trauma patients at high risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) by EAST criteria to whom either the EAST (prophylactic IVCF) or ACCP (no prophylactic IVCF) guidelines were applied. The analysis assumed the societal perspective over a lifetime. For base case and sensitivity analyses, probabilities and utilities were obtained from published literature and costs calculated from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services fee schedules, the Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project database, and Red Book wholesale drug prices for 2007. For data unavailable from the literature, similarities to other populations were used to make assumptions.
In base case analysis, prophylactic IVCFs were more costly ($37,700 vs $37,300) and less effective (by 0.139 QALYs) than therapeutic IVCFs. In sensitivity analysis, the EAST strategy of prophylactic filter placement would become the preferred strategy in individuals never having a filter, with either an annual probability of VTE of ≥ 9.6% (base case, 5.9%), or a very high annual probability of anticoagulation complications of ≥ 24.3% (base case, 2.5%). The EAST strategy would also be favored if the annual probability of venous insufficiency was <7.69% (base case, 13.9%) after filter removal or <1.90% with a retained filter (base case, 14.1%). In initial hospitalization only, EAST guidelines were more costly by $2988 and slightly more effective by .0008 QALY, resulting in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $383,638/QALY.
Analysis suggests prophylactic IVC filters are not cost-effective in high-risk trauma patients. The magnitude of this result is primarily dependent on probabilities of long-term sequelae (venous thromboembolism, bleeding complications). Even in the initial hospitalization, however, prophylactic IVCF costs for the additional quality-adjusted life years gained did not justify use.