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BACKGROUND: Distal protection devices are increasingly used to prevent embolization during percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) in saphenous vein grafts (SVG) and native coronary arteries (NV). During interventions with the Filterwire device we have observed reduced flow that is reversible following removal of the filter (filter no reflow, FNR), which might be erroneously interpreted as true no reflow and might be associated with reduced capture efficiency of the basket. METHODS: We analyzed the incidence of FNR in 58 patients (60 lesions) at high risk of embolization undergoing PCI of either a SVG or a NV using the Filterwire (Boston Scientific, Natick, MA). Qualitative and quantitative angiographic analysis was performed, and the volume of collected debris was estimated using a photographic technique. RESULTS: In our population, about 1/3 of the cases showed FNR, which was associated with angiographically visible filling defects within the basket, indicating macroembolism. However some patients (especially those undergoing vein graft interventions) showed filling defects without FNR, and some others FNR without filling defects. Thus we tried to understand the predictors of FNR: FNR was associated with higher amount of collected debris (36.97 +/- 42.98 mm(3) vs. 11.31 +/- 18.47 mm(3), p = 0.005), was neither prevented by abciximab, nor predicted by high thrombotic burden, increasing stent volume or need for predilatation. When patient with and without angiographically evident macroembolisation were separately analyzed, a linear correlation of FNR with the quantity of debris was only apparent in the macroembolization group. CONCLUSIONS: Interventionalists should be aware of the "Filter No Reflow", a common but reversible angiographic complication when the Filterwire device is used. Reduced flow seen during these procedures should be treated conservatively. Mechanical obstruction of the filter, but also other mechanisms (pharmacologically active debris? platelet aggregates?) play a role in this phenomenon.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Cardiol

Publication Date





53 - 58


Abciximab, Aged, Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Constriction, Pathologic, Coronary Angiography, Coronary Disease, Embolism, Equipment Design, Female, Filtration, Humans, Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments, Male, Microcirculation, Middle Aged, Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors, Retrospective Studies, Saphenous Vein