Occasionally blood clots that have developed in the veins of the leg or pelvis (referred to as deep vein thrombosis) break up and large pieces of the clot can travel to the lungs.
An IVC filter captures 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.
When Is This Procedure Conducted?
If you have a pulmonary embolus (PE) – blockage in the main artery of a lung, IVC filters can be used to prevent or manage pulmonary emboli and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and can be temporary or permanent. The shape of an IVC filter resembles that of an umbrella, and it functions in a similar way.
Suitability for this treatment depends on a number of factors, including how stable your blood pressure is and how well your heart is working. Other factors, which will be taken into consideration, are the type of IVC filter and your clinical situation, as permanent placement means you will need to take medication to prevent blood clotting for the rest of your life.
How Does This Procedure Work?
The interventional radiologist will insert a 3 mm plastic tube (called a sheath) into the base of your skull or your groin. They will guide the sheath to the blood clot in the inferior cava vein, which is where the IVC filter will be placed.
If you receive a temporary IVC filter, the interventional radiologist will remove the filter after the necessary period of time has passed. To remove the IVC filter, the interventional radiologist will insert a long plastic tube and a goose-neck system (like a miniature lasso) as before and use this to remove the IVC filter.
How Will I Feel After The Procedure?
If your IVC filter was inserted through a vein in your neck, you should be able to resume your normal activities within 24 hours.
If your filter was inserted through a vein in your groin, you should avoid driving for 24 hours, lifting any heavy objects and climbing stairs for 48 hours.
You may experience some minor bruising at the puncture site.
Your interventional radiologist may provide additional post-procedure instructions.
How Successful Is IVC Filters?
The IVC 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.
Summary of Benefits of IVC Filters
- Can prevent or manage pulmonary emboli and deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Traps large clot fragments, preventing them from traveling through the vena cava vein to the heart and lungs
- No surgical incision is needed – only a small nick in the skin – no stitches are required
- Less invasive than conventional open surgery to remove clots
Learn more about the treatment at http://cirse.org/index.php?pid=1051