Inferior Vena Cava Filter Insertion

 

Insertion of an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a procedure in which a filter is placed into the larg e vein in your abdomen that carries blood from the lower part of your body to your heart (inferior vena cava). This filter helps to prevent blood clots in the leg s or pelvis from traveling to your lung s, which can be very dang erous.

The filter is a small, metal device that is shaped like the spokes of an umbrella. The filter is inserted throug h a pathway that is created in the neck or g roin. Filters are inserted when blood thinners (anticoagulants) cannot be used to prevent blood clots from forming . You may need filters rather than anticoag ulants because you have:

  • Severe platelet problems or shortages.
  • Recent or current major bleeding that cannot be treated.
  • Bleeding associated with anticoagulants.
  • Recurrence of blood clots while taking anticoagulants.
  • A need for surgery in the near future.
  • Bleeding in your head.
  • Multiple broken bones.

Tell a health care provider about:

Any allerg ies you have, including iodine.

  • All medicines you are taking , including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Whether you are prenant or may be pregnant.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including :

  • The filter blocking the inferior venacava. This can cause leg swelling .
  • The filter eventually failing and not working properly.
  • The filter moving and traveling to the heart or lung s.
  • Damage to the vein. This is rare.
  • Bleeding .
  • Allergic reactions to medicines or dyes.
  • Damage to other structures or org ans.
  • Infection.
  • A pool of blood (hematoma) around the site where a flexible tube is put into a large vein (catheter insertion site).

What happens before the procedure?

Staying hydrated

Follow instructions from your health care provider about hydration, which may include:

  • Up to 2 hours before the procedure – you may continue to drink clear liquids, such as water, clear fruit juice, black coffee, and plain tea.

Eating and drinking restrictions

Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating and drinking , which may include:

  • 8 hours before the procedure – stop eating heavy meals or foods such as meat, fried foods, or fatty foods.
  • 6 hours before the procedure – stop eating lig ht meals or foods, such as toast or cereal.
  • 6 hours before the procedure – stop drinking milk or drinks that contain milk.
  • 2 hours before the procedure – stop drinking clear liquids.

Medicines

Ask your health care provider about:

  • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
  • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines before your procedure if your health care provider instructs you not to.

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  • You may be given antibiotic medicine to help prevent infection.

General instructions

  • Ask your health care provider how your surgical site will be marked or identified.
  • You may have blood tests. These tests can help to tell how well your kidneys and liver are working . They can also show how fast your blood is clotting .
  • You may be asked to shower with a germ-killing soap.
  • Plan to have someone take you home from the hospital or clinic.
  • If you will be going home rig ht after the procedure, plan to have someone with you for 24 hours.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting , ask your health care provider.

What happens during the procedure?

To lower your risk of infection:

  • Your health care team will wash or sanitize their hands.
  • Your skin will be washed with soap.
  • Hair may be removed from the surgical area.

 

An IV tube will be inserted into one of your veins.

You will be given one or more of the following :

 

  • A medicine to help you relax (sedative).
  • A medicine to numb the area (local anesthetic).

 

  • The procedure is done through a large vein in your neck or g roin. A small cut (incision) will be made in this area.
  • A flexible tube (catheter) will be put into a large vein where the incision was made.
  • Contrast dye may be injected into the inferior vena cava to help guide the catheter.
  • X-rays may be used to make sure that the catheter is in the correct position.
  • The IVC filter will be inserted into the vein through the catheter until it reaches the correct location in the inferior vena cava.
  • The catheter will be removed.
  • Pressure will be applied to the insertion site to stop bleeding .
  • A bandage (dressing) may be applied over the catheter insertion site.
  • Your IV tube will be taken out.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until the medicines you were given have worn off.
  • Your insertion site will be monitored for the first few hours for any signs of bleeding .
  • Do not drive for 24 hours if you were given a sedative.

 

Summary

  • The inferior vena cava filter helps to prevent blood clots in the leg s or pelvis from traveling to your lung s.
  • The IVC filter is inserted when anticoagulants cannot be used to prevent blood clots.
  • Plan to have someone take you home from the hospital or clinic, and plan to have someone with you for 24 hours if you will be going home rig ht after the procedure.