IVC stands for Inferior Vena Cava. The IVC is the large vein in the abdomen that returns blood to the heart. Sometimes when a person already has a blood clot or is at risk for developing one and anticoagulation medications are contraindicated, a filter is placed in the IVC to prevent any clots in the legs from traveling to the heart and lungs.
Your physician may recommend an IVC filter if you have a blood clot in your legs or you are at risk of developing one and you cannot take anticoagulant medications.
You will be given detailed instructions by our staff before your procedure. In general, do not eat, drink or smoke anything after midnight the night before your procedure. This includes breath mints, gum and tobacco. Patients should notify staff if they are diabetic, taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) or allergic to anesthesia. Be sure to bring your insurance card, photo ID, list of current medications (dose and frequency) and any diagnostic testing results.
Before the procedure, we will instruct you on any diet and medication restrictions leading up to the procedure. During the procedure, you will lie faceup and will be connected to monitors to check your vitals (heart rate, blood pressure, pulse) during the procedure. You may receive a moderate sedative through an IV tube in your arm. The area where the catheter will be inserted will be cleaned. A tiny incision will be made and a long, thin tube will be inserted at the incision site using Ultrasound or Fluoroscopy for image guidance. Contrast dye may also be used to ensure precise placement of the filter. Once the filter is in place, the catheter will be removed and the area will be covered with a bandage. The procedure is very similar to remove a filter from the IVC.
You will feel a slight sting when the needles are inserted for the IV line and the anesthesia. If you receive sedation, you will feel relaxed and sleepy and may or may not be partially awake during the procedure. You may feel some pressure when the catheter is inserted, but no serious pain.
Traditionally, IVC filters were permanent, meaning once they were implanted they were not removed. Today, there is a new type of filter that may be left in place permanently, but it also provides the option of being removed when there is no longer a danger of a blood clot traveling to the heart or lung. When IVC filters can safely be removed, we remove them.