IVC Filter Placement and Retrieval

What is an IVC Filter?

An IVC filter is a small metal device designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs. The filter is placed in the inferior vena cava (the large vein that takes blood back to the heart) typically just below the kidneys using a catheter type deployment device.


An interventional radiologist, interventional cardiologist or a vascular surgeon performs the procedure. You will be awake during the procedure, but medication may be administered to help you relax. A local anesthetic is used to numb the insertion site. You will be monitored throughout the procedure.


A catheter is inserted through a small incision in your groin or neck into a large vein. The physician uses the catheter to guide the filter into place in the inferior vena cava under xray guidance. The vena cava is imaged and sized prior to filter deployment. The catheter is removed and a small bandage is placed over the insertion site.


If your procedure was performed using your groin, your activity will be briefly limited.


There are two general types of IVC filters – permanent and optionally retrievable. Your doctor may choose to use an optionally retrievable filter depending on your particular risk factors, length of time you are at risk for blood clots, and ability to take blood thinners.


Placement of an IVC filter does not prevent new blood clots from forming. You may also be prescribed blood-thinning medications to prevent future clots.