The inferior vena cava (IVC) is a large vein that collects blood from the lower body and delivers it to the heart. An IVC filter is a small, cone-shaped device that is placed in the IVC to catch blood clots before they reach the heart.
Blood clots can develop in the veins of the leg. Occasionally, these blood clots can travel through blood vessels of the legs, to the IVC, then to the heart and lungs. If the clot is large enough it can create a blockage in the arteries of the lungs and cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, or death. Conditions that increase the risk of a traveling blood clot include:
An IVC filter can catch blood clots from the legs before they reach the heart and lungs. Because the IVC is such a large blood vessel, 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 who have a high risk for developing blood clots but cannot take blood thinning medications.
A small incision will be made in your groin or neck. A catheter will be passed through this incision into a major blood vessel until it reaches the IVC. Imaging and contrast dye will be used to help your doctor see the catheter as it passes through your blood vessels. You may feel a flush when the contrast dye is injected. A collapsed IVC filter will be delivered through the catheter to the desired location. Once in place, the filter will be opened. The catheter is then removed. Pressure will be applied to the insertion site for about 10 minutes after the procedure to prevent bleeding. A bandage is placed over the incision.
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Inferior vena cava filter placement and removal. Radiology Info—American College of Radiology website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=venacavafilter. Updated June 21, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2017.
Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement or removal. University of Washington website. Available at: https://rad.washington.edu/about-us/academic-sections/interventional-radiology. Accessed November 30, 2017.
Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter replacement or removal. University of Washington Medicine website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed November 30, 2017.
Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter retrieval. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/ivc-filter-retrieval. Accessed November 30, 2017.
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