Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Placement
You have been scheduled to have an Inferior Vena Cava Filter (IVC filter) placed as an outpatient or
while you are inpatient at UW Hospital and Clinics.
For outpatient IVC filter placement report to: G3/3 Radiology Atrium Waiting Area. You should plan
to stay for 4-6 hours.
What is an IVC Filter?
An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a device placed into the large vein that carries blood from the lower
body to the heart and lungs. The filter is designed to trap blood clots before they reach the lungs. IVC
filters may be left in for life (Permanent) or left in for a brief period of time (Retrievable). The type of
filter that is placed depends on your condition.
Why do I need this filter?
This filter is used in patients who are at risk of blood clots traveling to the lung. It is used when a patient
is not able to take blood thinning medicine.
What are some of the risks with (IVC) placement?
ξ Bleeding or bruising
ξ Once inserted, the filter may move, pieces may chip off or the filter could fill with blood clots
causing a blockage of your IVC
ξ Small blood clots may still reach your lungs
ξ You could have an allergy to the medicine we use during the procedure or injury to your kidneys
from the contrast dye
ξ Filter may not be able to be removed once placed due to technical or medical reasons
How Do I Prepare?
ξ Let the nurse know if you are taking Coumadin®, Plavix, Aspirin, Lovenox shots or any other
type of medicine to thin your blood. We will speak with your doctor to decide if you should stop
ξ Do not eat any solid food for 6 hours nor drink any liquids for 4 hours before your procedure.
ξ You may take any of your other prescribed medicine the morning of your IVC placement with a
sip of water.
ξ If you have a history of Sleep Apnea and use a machine, please notify the nurse and bring your
machine with you to be used during the procedure.
ξ You must arrange for a responsible adult to drive you home if you are being discharged the
same day you have the filter placed or removed.
What happens during the procedure?
ξ This procedure is done in Interventional Radiology and often takes about an hour.
ξ A nurse will check your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure during the procedure.
ξ You will be given medicine through your IV to help with pain and will help you relax.
ξ Your skin will be washed with sterile soap. A sterile drape will be placed over your body.
ξ Usually the IVC filter is inserted through a small tube placed in your groin vein or your neck
vein. The doctor will numb the site with lidocaine. Once the small tube is placed, the doctor will
advance a catheter to the site where the IVC filter will be placed. He will use contrast dye and
x-ray imaging to guide the way.. As he advances the catheter, you can expect to feel a brief hot
flushed feeling during the procedure as the contrast is injected.
ξ The IVC filter is released through the catheter and positioned in the large vein in your abdomen
(see picture below). Then the catheter will be removed and pressure will be held at the entry site
to minimize any bleeding. He will also apply a dressing to the site and you will then be taken
back to your room.
IVC filter placement and location of filter
After The Procedure
ξ You will then go back to the prep hold room or back to your inpatient room where the nurse will
check your site, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing as ordered by your doctor.
ξ You must stay in bed for one hour after you return to your room.
ξ If insertion site starts to bleed, apply direct pressure for 5 minutes and go to nearest
ξ First 24 hours. Do not drink alcohol and avoid caffeine products. DO drink at least 6-8 glasses
of clear liquids to help your body flush out contrast used during the procedure.
ξ Get lots of rest. You may resume normal activity in 24 hours.
ξ You may remove the dressing the next morning and shower but avoid scrubbing site. Also, no
tub baths or swimming until site is healed which could be up to 2 weeks.
ξ It is normal to have small areas of bruising.
ξ Check your site daily for signs and symptoms of infection, increased redness or swelling, red or
hot incision, foul smelling drainage, or a fever over 100°F.
ξ If you have a Permanent IVC filter placed, no follow-up plan is needed.
ξ If you have a Retrievable IVC filter placed, you will go to the Interventional Radiology (IR)
Clinic about 2-3 months from the date of placement to see if the filter should stay in forever or
should be removed.
ξ At the same time as the clinic visit, you will have an ultrasound of your legs done to see if you
have any new clots that have formed or to evaluate the status of the clots that were already there.
ξ If this appointment is not made at the time of your discharge, you can expect a call within a week
with a date/time or you may call the number below to set it up if you haven’t heard from the
scheduling department by that time.
ξ It is important that you follow up to your IR clinic appointment. If you no longer need your filter,
we would like to remove it as soon as possible to prevent any problems that could happen.
Guidelines for IVC filter removal:
If it is decided that you should have your filter removed, below is some more information for you to
ξ If you are on Warfarin (Coumadin), then you may not need to stop this medicine as long as your
INR is 2.5 or less on the day of the procedure. We will work with the person that prescribed this
medicine to see if you should hold any doses.
ξ We will retrieve the filter through the big vein in your neck.
ξ It will be done as an outpatient so you will be able to go home after the procedure.
ξ Please follow all other advice listed in the “How do I prepare” section.
When to Call the Doctor
ξ Fever over 100° F for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart
ξ Swelling of legs
ξ Increased redness or pain at the site
ξ Bleeding or pus noted at the site
ξ Itching and hives
If you have any questions or problems once you are at home or about your procedure, call the Radiology
Department (608) 263-9729, prompt #3, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. Ask to be
connected to the Interventional Radiology Nurse Coordinator. After hours, weekends, and holidays, this
number will be answered by the paging operator. Ask for the Interventional Radiologist on call. Leave
your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical
advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are
different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you have an
emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©2/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved.
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