Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Removal

At Rush, you will be cared for by interventional radiologists who have pioneered IVC filter removal for challenging cases and have a 100% success rate.

At Rush, you will be cared for by interventional radiologists who have pioneered IVC filter removal for challenging cases and have a 100% success rate.

At Rush, you will be cared for by interventional radiologists who have pioneered IVC filter removal for challenging cases and have a 100% success rate.

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.

However, if a filter isn't eventually retrieved, it may actually cause blood clots or other complications.

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

Who Would Benefit from IVC Filter Removal?

Not every filter should be removed, but everyone who has one should be evaluated. If you have a removable filter, it should be removed when the risk of a blood clot traveling to the lungs has passed, or if you are able to take blood thinners to reduce your risk of clotting. Your team of interventional radiologists will evaluate you to 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.

Complications Can From IVC Filter Removal

  • 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 throughout the body via the blood vessels and traveling to the lungs
  • Damage to the placement site or associated infection

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 if blood thinners continue to be unusable.

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 breaking free. In removing the filters, 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 minimally invasive procedure is performed on an outpatient basis using twilight (conscious) sedation in the interventional radiology suite, which is similar to an operating room but also includes special imaging equipment. More advanced retrievals are performed using general anesthesia due to the time it may take to remove 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 is removed using X-ray guidance to manipulate wires, catheters and other devices necessary to remove the filter, which can be up to 29 millimeters in length.

Rush Excellence in IVC Filter Removal

  • You are treated by the best: Interventional radiologists at Rush University Medical Center have a 100% successful rate for IVC filters removals, including the retrieval of difficult-to-remove filters referred from other centers.
  • Leading-edge experts in complicated cases: Interventional radiologists at Rush University Medical Center have pioneered a 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.
  • Innovative and advanced treatment: This technique is unique to Rush and allows interventional radiologists to remove filters that previously couldn't be removed for various reasons.