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Inferior Vena Cava Filter Placement

What is inferior vena cava filter placement?

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement is a procedure used to put a small filter in your inferior vena cava. The inferior vena cava is a large vein in your abdomen that carries blood from your body back to your heart. The filter is a tiny cone-shaped metal net that can trap blood clots.

When is it used?

A blood clot can block an artery in your lungs, which can be a life-threatening problem. If you cannot take an anticoagulant (blood thinner) medicine to slow clot formation or taking one has not worked well enough, you may need IVC filter placement. The filter does not stop clots from forming, but it can keep clots from reaching your lungs.

You may need this procedure if:

  • You are at risk for a blood clot that forms in one part of your body and travels in the bloodstream to your lungs.
  • You have blood clotting problems, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT happens when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs.
  • You are at risk of having blood clots, for example, during surgery or pregnancy or after an injury.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

  • Plan for your care and a ride home after the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Some products may increase your risk of side effects. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Tell your provider if you have had kidney problems or an allergy to chemicals, such as contrast dye. Contrast dye is used for some scans.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It’s best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

This procedure is usually done at the hospital.

You will be given medicine to help you relax, but you will be awake during the procedure. You will also be given a shot of anesthetic to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted.

Your healthcare provider will put a small tube called a catheter through your skin and into a blood vessel in your groin, arm, or neck. Ultrasound or X-rays will be used to see the catheter and guide it to the right place in your vein. Contrast dye may be injected through the catheter to help your provider see the blood vessels with X-rays.

After the IVC filter is inserted into the inferior vena cava through the catheter, the catheter will be removed. At the end of the procedure, your healthcare provider will put pressure on the area where the catheter was inserted (the puncture site) to control any bleeding.

What happens after the procedure?

After the procedure you may stay in a recovery area for at least a few hours to make sure the puncture site is not bleeding. The puncture site may be bruised and sore for a few days.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Some IVC filters are permanent and some are temporary. If the filter is temporary, you will have another procedure to remove it at a later time.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • You may have infection, bleeding, or blood clots.
  • Other parts of your body may be injured during the procedure.
  • You may have an allergic reaction to the dye.
  • After a while, the filter may break or move to a different place in your vein. If this happens, you may need more surgery.
  • Air or gas may collect in your lung and cause part or all of your lung to collapse.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2015-01-21
Last reviewed: 2015-01-20
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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