During Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter placement, a filtering device is placed within the IVC, a large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart.Blood clots in the veins of the legs and pelvic can occasionally travel to the lungs where they may cause a pulmonary embolism or blockage. IVC filters help reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism by trapping large clots and preventing them from reaching the heart and lungs. They have a high rate of success in patients who don’t respond to or cannot be given conventional medical therapy.
Your doctor will instruct you on how to prepare and advise you on any changes to your regular medication schedule and whether you should refrain from eating or drinking before your procedure. Tell your doctor if
There’s a possibility you are pregnant and discuss any recent illnesses, medical conditions, allergies and medications you’re taking. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown. Plan to have someone drive you home afterward.
What is Inferior Vena Cava Filter Placement and Removal?
In an inferior vena cava filter placement procedure, interventional radiologists use image guidance to place a filter in the inferior vena cava (IVC), the large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart. Blood clots that develop in the veins of the leg or pelvis, a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT),occasionally break up and large pieces of the clot can travel to the lungs. An IVC filter is a small metal device that traps large clot fragments and prevents them from traveling through the vena cava vein to the heart and lungs, where they could cause severe complications such as pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or even death.
Until recently, IVC filters were available only as permanently implanted devices. Newer filters, called optionally retrievable filters, may be left in place permanently or have the option to potentially be removed from the blood vessel later. This removal may be performed when the risk of clot travelling to the lung has passed. Removal of an IVC filter eliminates any long term risks of having the filter in place such as filter fracture or recurrent DVT. It does not address the cause of the deep vein thrombosis or coagulation. Your referring physician will determine if blood thinners are still necessary. However, not all retrievable IVC filters are able to be retrieved if the risk of clots traveling to the lung persists. These filters can be left in place as permanent filters.