Inferior Vena Cava Filter Placement
(Inferior Vena Cava Filter Removal; IVC Filter Placement; IVC Filter Removal)
This procedure places a filter in the inferior vena cava (IVC). The IVC is a large vein that collects blood from the lower body and moves it to the heart.
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Reasons for Procedure
IVC filter placement is done to catch blood clots before they reach the heart and lungs. Blood clots in the heart and lungs can be life-threatening.
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The filter can catch the blood clot without blocking blood flow. Over time the blood clot will break apart.
This procedure is often used in people at risk for blood clots who cannot take blood thinning medicines.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
- Excess bleeding
- Problems from anesthesia or x-ray dye
- Damage to other organs and structures
- The IVC filter moves from its proper position
- Heart attack
- Blood clots—rare
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
- Drinking alcohol
- Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
- Anesthesia options
- Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
- Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
- Whether you need a ride to and from surgery
- Tests that will need to be done before surgery
The doctor will give local anesthesia. The area where the tube is inserted will be numbed.
Description of the Procedure
A small incision will be made in the groin or neck. A tube will be passed through this incision. It will be passed into a major blood vessel until it reaches the IVC. Contrast dye will be injected through the tube and x-rays will be taken. The dye and x-rays will help the doctor see the tube as it passes through. An IVC filter will then be passed through the tube to the desired location. Once in place, the filter will be opened. The tube is then removed. Pressure will be applied to the insertion site for about 10 minutes. This will prevent bleeding. A bandage will then be placed over the site.
How Long Will It Take?
About 1 hour
Will It Hurt?
There may be some pain and discomfort after the procedure. Medicines can help.
Average Hospital Stay
Most go home the same day. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
- Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
- Not letting others touch your incisions
Recovery usually takes a few days.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
- Redness, swelling, excess bleeding, or discharge from the insertion site
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines
- Lasting nausea or vomiting
- Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
- Cough or breathing problems
- Chest pain
- Blue color and coldness in your legs
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Radiology Info—American College of Radiology
Texas Heart Institute
Canadian Association of Radiologists
Inferior vena cava filter placement and removal. Radiology Info—American College of Radiology website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/venacavafilter. Accessed July 22, 2021.
Li X, Haddadin I, et al. Inferior vena cava filter - comprehensive overview of current indications, techniques, complications and retrieval rates. Vasa. 2020;49(6):449-462.
Pulmonary embolism (PE). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pulmonary-embolism-pe. Accessed July 22, 2021.
Venous thromboembolism treatment. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17147-venous-thromboembolism-vte-treatment. Accessed July 22, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 7/22/2021