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IVC Filter Removal

IVC (inferior vena cava) filter removal is a procedure in which an IVC filter that had previously been placed in the patient is retrieved.

IVC filters are devices placed in patients at a high risk of forming dangerous blood clots. However, if a filter isn’t eventually retrieved, it may actually cause blood clots or other complications.

What is an IVC filter?

The inferior vena cava is a large blood vessel that carries blood from the lower part of the body, including the legs, kidneys and liver. Some patients are at a high risk of developing blood clots, usually in their legs.

An IVC filter is a metal device designed to catch these blood clots before they reach the heart and lungs, where they can cause serious damage.

IVC filters are placed in some patients who are at high risk of forming venous thromboembolisms or deep vein thrombosis, especially when medication can’t effectively combat the risk.

Filters are often placed prior to trauma-related surgeries, and for patients with deep vein thrombosis who cannot be treated with blood thinners. All such patients should be evaluated by an interventional radiologist to determine if their filters should be removed.

What complications can arise from an IVC filter?

  • Increased risk of blood clots, particularly in the legs.
  • Movement of the filter to another part of the body, such as the heart or lungs
  • Pieces of the device breaking and spreading through the body.
  • Damage to the placement site or associated infection.

Do I need IVC filter removal?

  • Any filter that has been in place longer than three to six months may put a patient at risk of serious complications.
  • If you have an IVC filter, you should be evaluated by an interventional radiologist to determine options for retrieval.
  • Some IVC filters are designed to be temporary, but others are “permanent” and not designed to be removed. However, even these may be retrieved depending on the results of your evaluation.

Why choose Rush for IVC filter removal

  • Interventional radiologists at Rush have a 100 percent removal rate for IVC filters, including the retrieval of difficult-to-remove filters referred from other centers.
  • Rush uses the most advanced tools available for IVC filter retrieval, including an array of equipment available at few other institutions.
  • Physicians at Rush are leaders in researching new methods for IVC filter retrieval. They have pioneered methods for retrieving even filters designed to be permanent and non-retrievable.