Your inferior vena cava (IVC) is one of your body’s major blood vessels that delivers deoxygenated blood back to your heart after it’s delivered oxygen to your lower body. In order to prevent blood clots in your legs from traveling up into your heart or lungs, an IVC filter can be placed in the IVC, directly beneath your kidneys.
IVC Filter placement and removal is a minimally invasive surgery. The implantation of the IVC filter involves a local anesthetic and numbing medication injected in your skin in the area that the IVC filter will be inserted, preventing discomfort during the surgery.
Once the anesthetic has begun to take effect, a catheter will be inserted into your body through your leg or neck, where it can then be guided into the IVC in your abdomen area. With the use of an x-ray dye, x-rays will be taken so that the catheter can be moved to the correct location within the IVC.
After the catheter has been correctly placed, the filter will be threaded through the catheter where it will attach to the wall of your IVC and remain in place until a later surgery to remove it. After the filter is placed, the catheter will be removed and the incision area will be bandaged.
While the filter is in your body, it will filter the blood passing through the IVC on the way back to your heart, catching clotted blood as it flows through the filter. Once your doctor has determined that the filter is no longer necessary, it can be removed in a procedure similar to the procedure involved in placing the filter.
IVC filters are a common treatment method for people who have been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis who also cannot take blood-thinning medications for various medical reasons.
A pulmonary embolism is a clump of material, usually a blood clot that becomes lodged in an artery in your lungs. The clump of material or blood clot from a pulmonary embolism usually originates in the deep veins in your legs. When this occurs, it is referred to as deep vein thrombosis. If the blood clot was able to travel all the way back to your heart, it could form a larger clot in your heart, preventing blood flow to or from your heart, causing a serious medical emergency.