Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter

An inferior vena cava filter, or IVC filter, is used to catch blood clots from the veins in the legs and prevent them from going to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. 

The filter is a metallic device that looks like an umbrella. An IVC filter is usually used if medical management of blood clots is inadequate.  

IVC Filter Preoperative Details

Your surgeon will give specific instructions before the IVC filter surgery, including risks such as bleeding or infection. Please be sure to contact your insurance company for coverage.

You will also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to go over your medical history. Please do not eat after midnight the night before your surgery.

On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the hospital, register, and change into a hospital gown. A nurse will review your chart to make sure there are no problems.

The anesthesiologist will then start an IV, and you will be taken to the operating room, where the surgeon will verify your name and procedure before any medication is given. Once you are under anesthesia, surgery will begin.

IVC Filter Operative Details

The procedure can be done with either general anesthesia or a local anesthetic with a muscle relaxant at the insertion site, usually the arm, neck, or groin.

The surgeon makes an incision and inserts the collapsed filter into the vessel through a catheter that acts like a portal between the skin and the vessel itself.

The surgeon will then advance the filter to the inferior vena cava, deploy the filter, and remove the catheter. Finally, the surgeon will close the incision.

IVC Filter Postoperative Details

After the surgery, you will be taken to the postoperative recovery area and be monitored until the doctor is assured that the filter is properly placed. It’s important to keep the incision areas clean and dry.

The length of your hospital stay depends on how quickly you are able to recover and perform some physical activity. Please let your doctor know immediately if you experience fever, severe pain, redness, swelling, warmth where the incisions were made, or drainage from the incisions.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with an IVC filter expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.