IVC Filter Retrieval
An IVC filter is a small metal device implanted in the large vein that returns blood back to the heart, to prevent dangerous blood clots from traveling from the lower body to the lungs. The IVC filter works by allowing blood to flow around a trapped clot until the body's natural anticoagulants break it down. Without the IVC filter in place, a blood clot traveling to the lung could travel to the lungs causing significant breathing difficulty or even death.
There are two types of IVC filters, permanent and optionally retrievable. The type of filter implanted depends on a variety of factors such as the patient's ability to take blood thinners and the length of time the risk for blood clots is present.
Why should a filter be removed?
Because filters can increase risks of new blood clot formation in the legs and abdomen, and certain filter types have been found to break apart and/or cause symptoms from the filter legs penetrating the wall of the IVC, removal is recommended when the filter is no longer needed.
When should an IVC filter be removed?
It is recommended that a retrievable filter be removed when there is no longer a risk of clot traveling to the lungs or if you can now take blood thinners.
How is an IVC filter removed?
The process to remove the IVC filter is similar to the process used to implant it. A special catheter is inserted into the jugular vein, the large vein in the neck. A removable IVC filter contains a small hook at one end and this hook can be “snared” and used to pull the filter out. These procedures are performed on an outpatient basis under light sedation, with brief post-procedure observation and return to normal activities the next day