IVC filter placement
IVC filter removal
IVC filters are placed in patients who either have a history or are at risk of developing blood clots in the legs. Clots may result from trauma or surgery, childbirth, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or other causes. Blood clots that develop in the veins of the leg or pelvis occasionally break up and large pieces of the clot can travel to the lungs. An IVC filter 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 or even death.
In an inferior vena cava filter placement procedure, interventional radiologists use image guidance to place a filter in the IVC, the large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart.
Until recently, IVC filters were available only as permanently implanted devices. Newer filters, called retrievable filters, are removed after they are no longer needed. This removal may be performed when the risk of a clot traveling to the lung has passed.
Removal of an IVC filter eliminates any long-term risks of having the filter in place. It does not address the cause of the deep vein thrombosis or coagulation. Your referring physician will determine if blood thinners are still necessary.
IVC Filter Placement/Removal – Preparation Instructions
- You should report to your doctor all medications that you are taking—including herbal supplements—and if you have any allergies, especially to local anesthetic, medications, general anesthesia or to contrast materials (also known as “dye” or “x-ray dye”).
- Your physician may advise you to stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or a blood thinner for a specified period of time before your procedure. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.
- Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.
- In most cases, you may take your usual medications, especially blood pressure medications. These may be taken with some water in the morning before your procedure.
- You may be instructed to not eat or drink anything for several hours before your procedure.
- You will be given a gown to wear during the procedure.