IVC Filter Placement
IVC Filter Placement
If you have had blood clots in the veins and are not a candidate for anticoagulation therapy, an Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filter placement may be necessary. IVC filters can help prevent dangerous blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs when first-line treatments do not work or should not be used. At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, we can perform your IVC filter placement in an outpatient setting using the latest interventional radiology techniques.
What Is IVC Filter Placement?
An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement is a minimally invasive procedure to prevent large blood clots in the legs from traveling to the lungs and causing dangerous blockages called Pulmonary Embolism (PE). During the filter placement procedure, an interventional radiologist implants a medical-grade metallic device called an IVC filter in a large abdominal vein, usually just below the kidney veins.
The IVC is a large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from your lower body to the heart. Patients at risk of developing PE but who cannot take anticoagulants or are not responding to them as expected may need an IVC filter. These patients include
- Patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Patients with existing pulmonary embolism (PE)
- Those who are immobile for long period
- Those following major trauma
An IVC filter works by anchoring to the vein wall with small hooks and “catching” a potential clot on its way to the lungs. Normal blood can still flow through the filter and the vein, as before. There are also many different types of IVC filters, some designed to be removed at a later time and others that are meant to be permanent implants. At ViP, we always prefer to place removable filters and will ask you to have your filter taken out when it is no longer needed.
Benefits of IVC Filter Placement
IVC filters are a life-saving alternative for patients who are not candidates for anticoagulant therapy. Besides that, getting an IVC filter has additional benefits:
- Minimally invasive — An IVC filter placement does not involve large incisions or general anesthesia like open surgery, significantly reducing risks and complications.
- Not Painful — IVC filters stay in the body after the procedure, but do not typically cause patients any pain.
- Outpatient procedure — You can get your IVC filter placement as an outpatient at an interventional radiology clinic for added convenience and to save time. If you happen to be hospitalized, we can perform the procedure in the inpatient setting as well.
- Quick recovery — There is minimal recovery time after getting IVC filter placement, outpatients typically are back to their baseline functioning within an hour or so after the procedure.
- High success rate — IVC filters have a high success rate in preventing PE, which makes the procedure worthwhile.
- Reversible — Unlike many other medical devices, most modern IVC filters are designed to be removed once your blood clot dissolves or when you can tolerate a blood thinner. At ViP, we feel strongly that filters should be taken out whenever medically safe. Even if you had a filter placed at another location, we would be happy to discuss filter removal with you.
Why Choose Vascular & Interventional Partners?
As Arizona’s leader in interventional radiology procedures, Vascular & Interventional Partners has gained the trust of both patients and referring physicians. Our team includes respected and experienced interventional radiologists, as well as dedicated nurses, physician assistants, technicians, and other staff dedicated to providing the highest standard of care.
Our team of interventional radiologists are all board-certified by The American Board of Radiology and are members of several professional organizations, including the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), the Outpatient Endovascular, Interventional Society (OEIS), and many other professional organizations to ensure our private practice is ahead of the latest innovations in interventional radiology.
As an office-based lab, we offer a personalized and quick patient experience. Most of our patients are allowed to go home within one or two hours post-treatment. We also offer curbside drop-off and pickup only feet away to make your stay as comfortable as can be.
Finally, we take IVC filter placement very seriously in our practice and want to make sure that we always offer to remove filters when they are no longer necessary. Because IVC filters can cause long-term complications, we counsel our patients on the importance of filter removal in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is IVC filter placement major surgery?
In short, no. IVC filter placement is a minimally invasive procedure. It involves local anesthesia, X-ray imaging, and catheters to help guide the IVC filter into the IVC. Most patients are able to get an IVC filter on an outpatient basis and recovery rates are quick since there is no need for general anesthesia and large incisions to open the abdomen.
How should I prepare for IVC filter placement?
Before your scheduled appointment, you may need to undergo medical tests so we can prepare you for your procedure. We may need to check your kidney functioning and see how your blood clots. Tell your doctor whether you are on any medications or taking supplements as certain drugs can increase the risk of bleeding. You may need to fast in the hours leading up to your procedure, and it is a good idea to arrange for someone to drive you home.
What happens during IVC filter placement?
You will lay supine on the operating table as the nurses give you IV sedation and connect you to monitors that track your vitals. Your doctor will administer local anesthesia and make a small incision, usually in the thigh. They will insert a thin tube (catheter) into the cut and through a large vein to reach the IVC. They will use X-ray imaging and contrast dye to check the movement of the catheter. Once in place, they will release a collapsed IVC filter from the catheter, which will expand and attach to the vein walls.
What is the recovery like?
Once your procedure is completed, you will be transferred to the recovery room where nurses will look at your vitals and check for signs of problems. After a couple of hours, you will be discharged with instructions on how to continue your recovery at home. Most patients can resume their usual activities on the next day. You may feel mild soreness at the treatment site or experience minor bruising.
How effective are IVC filters?
IVC filters are highly effective, with research showing that PE occurs in only about 1.3% of treated cases. IVC filters can occasionally fail, however. Filter migration or tilting can happen in a very small number of cases, and some patients may develop blood clots around the filter itself.
How long do IVC filters stay in?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends removing IVC filters after one to two months. This is usually enough time for the threat of PE to pass and for doctors to find an alternative solution for patients at risk of blood clots. Leaving an IVC filter for longer makes removal more challenging. Some patients may need the filter in for longer periods to ensure safety.