IVC Filter Removal
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IVC Filter Removal

If you have had an IVC filter implanted, your doctor will suggest removing it once you no longer need it. Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters are used as temporary safeguards against pulmonary embolism (PE) in patients who are not taking anticoagulants. Pulmonary embolism is the migration of venous blood clots to the lungs and can be dangerous or even life-threatening for some patients. IVC filters are meant to prevent this complication. However, once your risk of pulmonary embolism has decreased, you may be a candidate for IVC filter removal. At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, we regularly perform IVC filter removals using tried-and-tested techniques.

What is IVC Filter Removal?

IVC filter removal is a minimally invasive procedure to remove a previously implanted IVC filter. An IVC filter is a medical device implanted into the inferior vena cava (IVC), a major vein inside the abdomen. It helps prevent blood clots in the legs from traveling up into the lungs and causing PE in patients who do not or cannot take anticoagulants.

Most modern IVC filters are retrievable, i.e. they are designed to be removed once the danger of PE has passed. Removing an IVC filter is performed in the same way as IVC filter placement: with interventional radiology techniques.

During IVC filter removal, an interventional radiologist uses a combination of X-ray imaging, contrast dye, and catheters to reach the IVC filter within the large vein in your abdomen. Modern IVC filters have a hook at the end that helps your provider retrieve the filter safely and easily.

For some patients, particularly those who have had filters in place for many years, advanced filter removal techniques may be required. This may require special equipment, general anesthesia, or an inpatient procedure in the hospital. The physicians at ViP have deep experience removing even the most challenging IVC filters, and many doctors around the state who have been unable to remove an IVC filter send patients to our practice for consultation.

What is IVC Filter Removal?
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Benefits of IVC Filter Removal

IVC filter removal is a simple procedure to retrieve an IVC filter that is no longer needed. The procedure reduces your risk of complications associated with IVC filters and has additional benefits:

  • Minimally invasive — IVC filter removal is minimally invasive, meaning no need to make large incisions or use general anesthesia to perform IVC filter removal.
  • Outpatient procedure — For most people, your IVC filter can be removed as an outpatient in an office-based procedure suite, which makes this procedure highly convenient. In rare cases, a hospital procedure may be necessary for specialized equipment or other safety concerns.
  • Less risky than surgery — Compared to surgery to retrieve an IVC filter, IVC filter removal at an interventional radiology suite is very safe.
  • Quick recovery — Because only a tiny cut (3mm) in the skin and minor anesthesia are required for IVC filter removal, patients can get back to their usual routine within a day or two following this procedure.
  • High success rate — Studies show a technical success rate of up to 97% with IVC filter removal, especially when removed early.
Why Choose VIP?

Why Choose Vascular & Interventional Partners?

As Arizona’s leader in interventional radiology procedures, our experts at Vascular & Interventional Partners have many years of experience performing ICV filter placement and removal. Our interventional radiologists are the most respected division in Arizona and have gained the trust of both patients and referring physicians. Specifically for IVC filters, many doctors around the state of Arizona sent patients to our practice when they attempted but failed to remove a filter.

Our five 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. Our team also includes physician assistants, nurses, and technicians to provide the highest standard of care. We also offer curbside drop-off and pickup only feet away to make your stay as comfortable as can be.

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To learn more about IVC filter removal at Vascular & Interventional Partners, call our office today at {phone} or fill out our online form here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is IVC filter removal major surgery?

IVC filter removal performed by interventional radiologists is not a major surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure that uses image guidance and catheters to safely retrieve the IVC filter. Most patients require only local anesthesia and mild sedation during this procedure, and your provider will make a small nick in the skin to guide the catheter through your veins.

Does an IVC filter need to be removed?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends removing retrievable IVC filters within a month or two, when safe to do so. IVC filters can increase your risk of blood clots. These medical devices can also fracture or penetrate the vein wall, which are dangerous but rare complications. However, IVC filters were originally permanent implants, and some patients benefit from not having their filters removed.

How is an IVC filter removed?

During IVC filter retrieval, you will lie in the supine position on a padded table in an interventional radiology suite. You will be given IV sedation and local anesthesia to make you feel comfortable. Your interventional radiologist will make a tiny puncture in your thigh or neck to access one of your major veins. Using image guidance and contrast dye, they will guide a flexible tube (catheter) down your IVC and grasp the filter for easy removal.

How long does IVC filter removal take?

A typical procedure takes no more than 30 minutes to complete, with additional time needed for preparation and recovery. However, IVC filter removal in complex cases can take an hour or more.

Is IVC filter removal painful?

IVC filter removal should not be painful. You will be given local anesthesia to numb the area where your provider will insert the catheter, and mild sedation will help you relax and minimize any discomfort. You may, however, feel mild pressure or pulling as the catheter is guided towards the filter. Some patients can also experience mild soreness at the treatment site a couple of days after their procedure. If a painful or challenging filter removal is anticipated, your doctor may recommend the procedure be done in the hospital under general anesthesia, but this is not the case for most patients.

Can a “permanent” IVC filter be removed?

In some cases, even “permanent” IVC filters that have been in place for many years can be removed with minimally invasive techniques. However, in extreme cases some filters may not be able to be safely removed and must remain in place.

What are the risks of IVC filter removal?

While this procedure is minimally invasive, it still carries certain risks, which are rare and usually minor. Bruising or soreness at the access site is possible. Some patients have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used during removal, or may not tolerate the sedation medicine well. In rare cases, the IVC filter may tilt, migrate, or penetrate the vein and nearby structures.