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Inferior Vena Cava Filter

In an Inferior Vena Cava Filter placement procedure, interventional radiologists use image guidance to place a filter in the inferior vena cava (IVC), the large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart.

Your doctor may recommend Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters for patients who have a history of or are at risk of developing blood clots in the legs, 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

You may have blood drawn prior to your procedure. Prior to your procedure, your blood may be tested to determine how well your liver and kidneys are functioning and whether your blood clots normally. You should eat a light meal the night before your procedure. You may be instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight before your procedure. Your doctor will tell you which medications you may take in the morning. You may be allowed to drink clear liquids on the day of your procedure. If you are diabetic and take insulin, you should talk to your doctor, as your usual insulin dose may need to be adjusted. You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images. You may want to have a relative or friend accompany you and drive you home afterward.

In this procedure, a catheter, x-ray or ultrasound equipment for imaging guidance and an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter may be used. A catheter is a long, thin plastic tube, about as thick as a strand of spaghetti.

Using image guidance, a catheter is inserted through the skin into a blood vessel in the neck or groin and advanced to the inferior vena cava in the abdomen. The IVC filter is then placed through the catheter and into the vein where it will attach itself to the walls of the blood vessel. To remove an IVC filter, a special catheter is advanced to the site of the filter in the vena cava. A removable IVC filter has a small hook or knob at one end that enables the catheter to take hold of and withdraw it from the body. The procedure is typically completed within an hour.

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