What is a Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter?
The IVC is a major blood vessel that returns blood from the lower body to the heart. An IVC filter is a small piece of metal, made of nitinol or stainless steel that can be placed into the IVC to prevent blood clots in the legs from traveling to the lungs. This medical device is used for the prevention of pulmonary embolism (PE). Many patients have received a retrievable IVC filter for temporary prevention of PE. When the filter is no longer needed, prompt removal is recommended to avoid long-term complications.
What are the common uses for the IVC Filter?
Patients who have a history of or are at risk of developing blood clots in the legs are candidates for an IVC Filter, including patients:
- diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- with pulmonary embolus.
- who are trauma victims.
- who are immobile.
- who have recently had surgery or delivered a baby.
What are the types of IVC Filters?
There are two types of filters. Based on your conditions, your doctor will determine which is appropriate for you.
- Permament Filter: These are placed in patients who have a permanent contraindication or complication to anticoagulation medications. They are left permamently in the inferior vena cava.
- Retrievable Filter: These can be removed once your risk for clotting has been decreased. They are used in patients who only have a temporary risk of VTE or need to hold their anticoagulation medications for surgery or temporary bleeding problems.
How does the procedure work?
An IVC filter works by trapping large clot fragments and preventing them from traveling through the vena cava vein to the heart and lungs, where they may cause servere complications or even death. No surgical incision is required, only a small nick in the skin that does not have to be stitched closed. The filter has a high rate of success in protecting lungs from serious pulmonary embolus (PE) in patients who have failed conventional medical therapy or cannot be given conventional medical therapy.
Our board certified Interventional Radiologists specialize in innovative, minimally invasive procedures that utilize image guided techniques to safely manage patients that require IVC Filters.