Despite being costly and of little proven benefit, a procedure for treating pulmonary embolism with blood clot filters is routinely used in older adults, Yale School of Medicine researchers and their colleagues found in a new study.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the study also showed that the utilization rates of inferior vena caval (IVC) filters varied widely across different regions in the United States. IVC filters are aimed at obstructing the path of blood clots to prevent pulmonary embolism, a condition in which air or blood clots block blood flow in arteries.

“The best use of the IVC filter technology remains uncertain, but this procedure with very narrow indications is being performed in almost one in six patients,” said Bikdeli. “Further research will help identify the subgroups of people that will benefit most from this procedure.”