What is an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter?

An IVC filter is a filter that is placed in the inferior vena cava, which is a large vein that connects your leg veins with your heart, to trap blood clots. Clots that develop in the veins in your legs are called deep vein thrombosis. A clot, or a piece of it, can move out of your leg and flow towards your heart and lungs. Clots in the lung can be life-threatening. The filter protects the lungs from these life-threatening clots.

What can I expect during this procedure?

You will be attached to a monitor so that IV medicines can be given to relax you. The skin over the hip or neck area will be numbed with a special medicine through a needle. After making a small incision, the doctor will insert a small tube into a vein. Through this tube, the doctor will insert the filter into the large vein (IVC) in your abdomen. X-ray dye will be injected through the tube to check the placement of the filter. Once the filter is placed, it immediately begins filtering all the blood going to the lungs from the legs. The tube in your neck or hip will be removed and light pressure will be held until the bleeding has stopped.

What can I expect after the procedure?

You will be on bed rest for 4 hours after the filter is placed.

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