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Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter

Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

Specialized interventional radiology doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center skillfully place inferior vena cava (IVC) filters to prevent blood clots in the legs from traveling to other parts of the body – particularly the lungs. 

Combining skill and experience with the newest science-based tools and techniques, our physicians treat a common problem that can lead to more serious conditions.

Small Procedure Prevents Blood Clots

UT Southwestern’s skilled interventional radiology specialists place IVC filters. These tiny metallic devices catch blood clots and prevent them from traveling to the heart or lungs (pulmonary embolism). 

Conditions that can make the placement of an IVC filter necessary include deep vein thrombosis, particularly blood clot(s) in the legs. IVC filters are used when medical therapy is not an option for treatment of deep vein thrombosis. 

What to Expect

IVC Filter Preoperative Details

An interventional radiologist will provide specific instructions to the patient prior to IVC filter placement, also discussing risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia. 

The procedure to place the IVC filter can be performed with either general anesthesia, moderate sedation, or a local anesthetic. Patients might also meet with the anesthesiologist (if required) prior to the procedure to review their medical history. Patients should not eat after midnight the night before the procedure. 

On the day of the procedure, the patient arrives at the hospital, registers, and changes into a hospital gown. A nurse reviews the patient’s charts to make sure there are no problems.

The patient is then taken to the angiography suite, where the interventional radiologist verifies the patient’s name and procedure before any medication is given. The procedure begins once the anesthesia is in effect. 

IVC Filter Operative Details

The interventional radiologist makes an incision and inserts the collapsed IVC filter into a large vein in the groin or neck through a catheter, which serves as a portal between the skin and the vessel. The interventional radiologist then advances the filter to the inferior vena cava, deploys the filter, and removes the catheter. The incision does not require any sutures. A dressing is applied at the site of the skin incision. 

IVC Filter Postoperative Details

After the procedure, patients are taken to the postoperative recovery area and monitored until the doctor is certain that the patient completely recovers from the anesthetic effect. 

The length of the hospital stay depends on how quickly patients recover and can perform some physical activity. Patients are usually discharged within a few hours. 

The IVC filter is removed when the patient can resume medical therapy for blood clots, which can take weeks or months.

Support Services

UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease. 

Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.

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