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Pulmonary Embolism - Other Treatment

Some people cannot take anticoagulant medicines, or they continue to develop blood clots despite taking the medicines. If surgery or medicines are not options, other methods of preventing pulmonary embolism may be considered, such as a vena cava filter.

Other treatment choices

A vena cava filter may be inserted in the large central vein that passes through the abdomen and returns blood from the body to the heart (vena cava). This filter can prevent blood clots in the leg or pelvic veins from traveling to the lungs and heart. These filters may be permanent or removable.

What to think about

Vena cava filters aren't typically recommended as the first treatment for pulmonary embolism. But they may be considered if you:

  • Continue to have pulmonary embolism despite taking anticoagulant medicine.
  • Cannot take anticoagulants because of bleeding risk.
  • Have an increased risk of death or a severely restricted lifestyle should another pulmonary embolism occur.

Vena cava filters may benefit people who have had a clot removed (embolectomy), or if another pulmonary embolism would likely be fatal or severely limit a person's lifestyle.

Vena cava filters can cause serious health problems if they break or become blocked with one or more blood clots.

Vena cava filters have not been shown to lower the death rate in people with pulmonary embolism.3

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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