WHERE DO IVC FILTERS GO

WHERE DO IVC FILTERS GO?

If you suffer from deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also called venous thromboembolism (VTE), a blood clot in a vein deep inside your body, your doctor might suggest placing an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter in your body. An IVC filter is a small cage-like device that is placed in the hollow vein called the inferior vena cava (IVC), which carries blood back to the heart from the lower part of your body.

HOW IVC FILTERS WORK

Once your IVC filter is correctly placed, it will catch and prevent blood clots from traveling through your IVC and into your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be life threatening. The blood clot might dissolve on its own over time, after which your doctor might suggest removing the filter since it can cause complications.

HOW ARE IVC FILTERS REMOVED

Before your filter is removed, your doctor will assess if it's safe for them to take out the IVC filter. They'll likely perform some tests, including:

  • Imaging Test: This test is usually done using ultrasound to see the location of the filter, check if the clot is still there, and if there are signs of filter complications, such as a hole in the IVC.
  • Blood Test: Your doctor might order a blood test to check if your blood clotting problem is still there. If your blood clotting problem is gone, they might recommend removing the filter.

In some cases, you might need to take blood thinning medicine for a while before the doctor removes your IVC filter. This will help prevent new blood clots from forming while the filter is out.

HOW ARE IVC FILTERS REMOVED?

  • Percutaneous Retrieval: Percutaneous retrieval is a minimally invasive procedure. During this procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in your skin and uses a catheter to reach the filter in your IVC. They then use a special tool to capture the filter and remove it through the catheter.
  • Surgical Retrieval: Surgical retrieval is a more invasive procedure. During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen or groin and removes the filter directly.

WHERE DOES THE IVC FILTER GO AFTER REMOVAL?

After retrieval, your IVC filter is often disposed of as medical waste and is usually incinerated. Depending on the hospital's policy and local regulations, it might also be sent to a special waste disposal facility.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

  • How long should an IVC filter stay in place?
    The time an IVC filter should stay in place varies from person to person. Generally, an IVC filter is recommended to stay in place for at least six weeks or up to three months.

  • What are the risks of having an IVC filter?
    IVC filter complications are rare. However, complications can include:

  • IVC filter migration

  • Filter fracture

  • IVC perforation

  • Infection

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

  • What are the signs and symptoms of an IVC filter complication?
    Symptoms of an IVC filter complication include:

  • Pain, swelling, or tenderness in your abdomen, back, or legs

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Coughing up blood

  • How can I prevent IVC filter complications?
    There are no specific things you can do to prevent IVC filter complications. However, it's important to tell your doctor about any new symptoms you have while you have an IVC filter.

  • What should I do if I think I have an IVC filter complication?
    If you think you have an IVC filter complication, see your doctor right away.

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