What are the endovascular placement and retrieval of an IVC filter?

The inferior vena cava (IVC) is the largest vein in the body. It carries deoxygenated blood from the lower half of the body back to the heart. Blood clots usually form in the lower limbs, climb up to the IVC, and then to the pulmonary arteries, causing blockage of the main blood supply to the lungs which is known as a pulmonary embolism (PE). An IVC filter is a metal devices that resembles an umbrella to catch blood clots in the IVC to prevent or manage pulmonary emboli and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Mostly used IVC filters nowadays are temporarily and should be removed when not needed.

How does the procedure work?

The interventional radiologist will insert a 3 mm plastic tube (called a sheath). He will guide the sheath to in the inferior cava, where the IVC filter will be placed. If you receive a temporary IVC filter, the interventional radiologist will remove the filter after the necessary period has passed.

To remove the IVC filter, the interventional radiologist will insert a long plastic tube and a goose-neck system (like a miniature lasso) as before and use it to remove the IVC filter.

Why perform it?

Several treatments are available to manage or prevent pulmonary emboli and DVT, including conservative (medical) therapy, IVC filters, intravenous systemic thrombolysis, catheter thrombolysis, and surgical procedures. Your suitability for this treatment depends on several factors, such as how well your heart is working and how stable your blood pressure is.

What are the risks?

Some minor risks include pain and bruising at the puncture site in your neck or groin. Other risks that are rare can include filter breakage, displacement or breaking through the vein’s wall.
If you have a permanent IVC filter, you will have additional risks from the medication preventing blood clots.