Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Placement

What Is An Inferior Vena Cava Filter For?

Your body can develop a blood clot in the vein in your legs which is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This blood clot, or a piece of this clot, can move from your leg to your heart and lungs. A clot in your lung is called a pulmonary embolism. If you have one or two of these problems and cannot take blood thinners, you are a candidate for an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. The filter will trap any clot or pieces of the clot to keep them from your heart or lungs.

Before The Procedure

Do not eat for 8 hours or drink for 4 hours before the procedure. You may take medications with a sip of water. Continue to take your medications as usual, unless instructed to hold certain medications. If you take insulin, your doctor should adjust your morning insulin dose the day of your test.

During The Procedure

Your neck or leg will be cleaned and covered with a sterile drape to help prevent infections. A numbing medicine will be injected under the skin to prevent discomfort when the tube (catheter) is placed. Other than the sting or burning of this medicine, you should not feel pain with the procedure.

A plastic tube (catheter) will be placed into your leg or neck and guided into the large vein in your abdomen. X-ray dye will be injected through the tube and pictures will be taken of the large vein in your abdomen that connects your leg veins to your heart. This vein is called the Inferior Vena Cava. Next, the Radiologist will thread the filter through the catheter and place it in the vena cava where it attaches itself to the wall to stay in place. It will filter your blood, trapping any pieces of a clot as they flow from your legs.

Once the filter is placed, the catheter will be removed, and pressure will be applied over the site where it went into the skin for about 5 minutes. When the bleeding has stopped, an adhesive bandage will be placed over the site. It may be removed after 24 hours. Your procedure will take approximately 1 hour to complete.

After The Procedure

You will need to lie flat for 2 hours if your leg was used to place the filter. After the 2 hours you may get up to go to the bathroom with help. If the filter was placed in a vein in your neck, you will be able to do normal activities.

Your nurse will check your neck or leg for bleeding after the procedure. Let your nurse know if you have any bleeding or pain at the site. Drink plenty of fluids, unless directed otherwise by your doctor. This will help clear the IV dye from your body.

If the catheter was in your leg, limit bending at the waist for 48 hours. If you feel that you are going to cough, sneeze, or if you need to bear down for a bowel movement, apply gentle pressure to the puncture site with your hand. Do not lift heavy objects for 48 hours from the time you leave the hospital. Do not drive or operate machinery for 24 hours.

When You Go Home

You will need a driver to bring you home. Limit your activity after this procedure to help your recovery and prevent problems. If you want to wash after the procedure, take a sponge bath. Wait until the next morning to shower or take a tub bath. Remove your adhesive bandage the morning after the test. As you shower or bathe, wash the puncture site gently and pat it dry. Do not scrub the site. Gradually increase your activities the next morning, but do not plan on working the day after this procedure.

Possible Complications

Bleeding can occur from the area where the puncture was done. Blood may ooze or drip from the site or it may form a lump (hematoma) or “goose-egg” under the skin. If bleeding occurs, follow the instructions below based on the location of the catheter insertion:

  • Leg: Lie down on your back as flat as possible. Have someone apply firm pressure with a gauze pad or clean wash cloth to the puncture site for 10 to 15 minutes or until the bleeding has stopped. After bleeding has stopped, continue to lie flat with your leg straight for 60 minutes. When you get up, move slowly to keep from feeling dizzy or faint.
  • Neck: Sit up and have someone apply firm pressure with a gauze pad or clean wash cloth to the puncture site for 10-15 minutes or until bleeding has stopped. After bleeding has stopped, continue to sit up for 60 minutes. When you get up, move slowly to keep from feeling dizzy or faint.
  • If bleeding has not stopped, or occurs a second time, reapply pressure for 10 to 15 minutes and call 911.

When To Call Your Provider

Call your health care provider if you experience:

  • Numbness, coldness or pain in your leg or neck
  • Fever greater than 101 degrees
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Drainage
  • Redness
  • Pain

Providing safe, quality patient care is our highest priority. To help ensure quality and safety, we ask that you do not bring young children with you to your appointments, as children are not allowed to accompany you during Imaging procedures. Staff is unable to monitor your child in your absence.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your provider.

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