At Rush, you will be cared for by our experts, who have pioneered IVC filter removal for challenging cases and have an excellent success rate.
Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Removal
IVC (inferior vena cava) filters are blood clot filters that are implanted in the inferior vena cava, located just below the kidneys, to trap blood clots before they travel to the heart and lungs and cause permanent damage. Some people who have deep venous thrombosis are unable to tolerate blood thinners and may benefit from IVC filter placement.
However, if a filter isn't eventually retrieved, it may cause blood clots or other complications.
IVC filter removal is a minimally invasive procedure in which an IVC filter that had previously been placed in the patient is retrieved. The procedure is performed by our experts in interventional radiology and vascular surgery.
Who Would Benefit from IVC Filter Removal?
Not every filter should be removed, but everyone who has one should be evaluated. Your team of experts will determine options for retrieval for any of the following reasons:
- Removal is recommended when the filter is no longer needed, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- Any filter that has been in place longer than three to six months may put you at risk of serious complications.
- While some IVC filters are designed to be temporary, others are "permanent" and not designed to be removed. However, even these may be retrieved depending on the results of your evaluation.
Side effects from the IVC filter removal can occur in a small amount of patients, so it is important for you to be evaluated to determine if the filter should be removed. Not all retrievable IVC filters should be removed if the risk of clots traveling to the lung persists and you are not able to use blood thinners.
Potential complications from the procedure include the following:
- 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, via the blood vessels
- Pieces of the device breaking and spreading throughout the body via the blood vessels and traveling to the heart or lungs
- Damage to the placement site or associated infection
IVC Filter Removal at Rush
The technique involves a careful method of catching, or "snaring," the filter to hold it in place and then covering it to prevent parts of it from breaking free. In removing the filter, the team also uses tools such as alligator (long-armed) forceps; and an excimer laser, which cuts off IVC scar tissue that may be attached to the filter.
The filter removal is performed through a small incision in the neck or groin (the maximum size is around 5 millimeters). The filter may be removed using X-ray guidance to manipulate the wires, catheters and other devices that are necessary to remove the filter, which can be up to 29 millimeters in length.
Often, the procedure can be done using local anesthesia at the site where the catheter is inserted. However, more advanced retrievals are performed using general anesthesia due to the time it may take to remove the filter.
Rush Excellence in IVC Filter Removal
- Care from leading experts: Our team of experts at Rush University Medical Center have an excellent successful rate for IVC filters removals, including the retrieval of difficult-to-remove filters referred from other centers.
- Advanced treatments: Our experts have pioneered a unique technique to remove filters that previously couldn't be removed for various reasons — a technique published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. Removing an IVC filter eliminates any long-term risks of filter breaking off and traveling to the heart or lungs.