Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter 

An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a small device that can stop blood clots from going up into the lungs. The device is placed in the inferior vena cava (large vein in the middle of the body) to trap blood clots. Clots that develop in the veins in the legs are called deep vein thrombosis or DVT.  A clot, or a piece of it, can move out of the leg and flow towards the heart and lungs. Clots in the lung can be life-threatening. The IVC filter protects the lungs from these life-threatening clots.

When is the procedure recommended?

An IVC filter can be recommended for treatment of DVT or pulmonary embolism, or history of either. IVC filter may be recommended for patients with a high risk of getting a DVT.  A variety of conditions can increase the chance of getting a DVT, such as:

  • Recent surgery, which decreases your mobility and increases inflammation in the body
  • Medical conditions that limit mobility, such as an injury or stroke
  • Long periods of travel
  • Injury to a deep vein in the leg
  • Inherited blood disorders that increase clotting
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer treatment
  • Smoking, obesity or older age

How is the procedure performed?

The IVC filter is placed through a small incision in a vein in your groin or neck. A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into this vein. The catheter is then gently moved into your IVC. A collapsed IVC filter is sent with the catheter. The filter is left in place, and the catheter is removed. The filter then expands and attaches itself to the walls of the IVC. It may be left in place permanently. In some cases, it may be removed after a period of time.

What are the benefits?

  • Option for those who are at high-risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolisim (PE)
  • Alternative when blood thinning medications are not effective or dangerous for treatment
  • Low morbidity associated with implantation
  • Highly effective, preventing up to 95% of blood clots from traveling to the lungs


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