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Description of IVCF

An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a medical device that is placed in the large vein in the abdomen in order to prevent blood clots originating in the legs from reaching the lungs. This option is most commonly indicated for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) when blood thinning therapy is not advisable.
During the placement procedure, RIA Endovascular interventional radiologists use image guidance to place a filter in the inferior vena cava (IVC), the large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart. The IVC filter, which looks like a mini-eggbeater, is compressed into a very thin catheter. The interventional radiologist accessed the venous system through using the catheter via the femoral vein (in the groin) or the jugular vein (in the neck). The interventional radiologist uses fluoroscopic guidance to reach the desired location. Then the filter is pushed through the catheter and deployed into the desired location.

The IVC filter is removed using a procedure similar to the way it was inserted. X-ray dye (contrast) is injected around the filter to make sure that area beneath the filter is free of blood clots. If so, it is safe to proceed with removal. A catheter-based snare is used to grab the hook at the end of the filter. The filter is then encased by a removal sheath and removed from the body.

Who needs an Inferior Vena Cava Filter?

Blood clots that develop in the veins of the leg or pelvis are known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These clots have the potential to break up and large pieces of the clot can travel to the lungs. An IVC filter acts like a catcher’s mitt, allowing normal liquid blood to flow but trapping large clot fragments preventing them from traveling to the heart and lungs, where they could cause severe complications. Other reasons one might need an IVC filter is immobility, pulmonary embolism or trauma.

Are there risks to involved with an IVCF?

Infection is a risk any time the skin is penetrated. There is a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast dye that is used during the procedure. There is a chance the filter can migrate or lodge in the vein causing damage to the vessel. Blood clots may fill the filter and cause swelling to the legs.

Conditions to let us know about

You will need to alert your care team if there is a chance you might be pregnant. You will also need to let them know any recent illness, medical history and any allergies to medications.

Is an IVCF covered by insurance?

Inferior Vena Cava placement is covered by most private insurance providers as well as Medicare.

Preparing for an IVCF procedure

Prior to your procedure, bloodwork may be done in order to asses your kidney function and to see if your blood clots normally. You will need to let your care team about any medications you are currently taking. They will also need to know any current or past medical conditions/illnesses. You will need to not have any solid food eight hours prior to your procedure. You may have clear liquids up to two hours prior to your procedure. You will wear a gown during the procedure and should remove any jewelry that might interfere with x-ray images. You need to have a driver to take you home.

Recovering from an IVCF procedure

You most likely will receive mild to moderate sedation during your procedure. You will stay in the recovery area until you are completely awake and ready to return home. You will leave with a small bandage on your neck that can be removed in 24 hours. You will be given written post procedure discharge instructions that will advise you about return to normal physical activity and care of the insertion site.

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