IVC Filter Replacement and Retrieval
In an inferior vena cava filter placement procedure, the physician uses 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.
Blood clots that develop in the veins of the leg or pelvis, a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), occasionally break up and large pieces of the clot can travel to the lungs. An IVC filter traps large clot fragments and prevents them from traveling through the vena cava vein to the heart and lungs, where they could cause severe complications or even death.
Until recently, IVC filters were available only as permanently implanted devices. Newer filters, called optionally retrievable filters, may be left in place permanently or removed from the blood vessel later.
The filter may be removed when the risk of a clot travelling to the lung has passed. Removal of an IVC filter eliminates any long-term risks of having the filter in place. It does not address the cause of DVT or coagulation. Your referring physician will determine if blood thinners are still necessary.