I’ve had an IVC filter for a long time, should I be concerned?

Baird IVC Filter

Inferior vena cava filters, or IVC filters, whether they are permanent or retrievable types, are designed to be left in the body for a long time. They are made from stainless steel or a metal alloy and are designed to withstand years of placement within a human body.

“Occasionally, though, those filters can have problems,” said Dr. Brian Strife, at VCU Health’s Baird Vascular Institute. “The three main problems we see are the filter itself developing blood clots and blocking the main vein, the IVC, which can result in swelling and extreme pain in the lower extremities. Also, the metal itself in the filter can stress or fatigue, causing the filter to break, and pieces of the filter can migrate into the patient and damage adjacent organs, and very rarely, pieces of the filter can break and go into the heart and lungs.”

These types of issues are extremely uncommon, assures Dr. Strife. “We do know these issues are sometimes a cause of patient concern and anxiety, and we often receive calls from patients asking whether or not their filter needs to be removed to avoid these complications.”

“In 2010, the FDA recommended that physicians who placed these filters and physicians who treated patients with the filters make an attempt to consider filter retrieval when that filter is no longer needed,” Dr. Strife continued. “Sometimes that’s a tough call,” he said, “because we don’t necessarily know which patients are best suited to have an IVC filter in for the rest of their life.”

When a patient calls our office with an IVC filter they would like to have removed, we first have that patient come in for a consultation to discuss why they had the filter in the first place, then we will make a decision on whether retrieval is appropriate for them or not. “Sometimes that’s an easy decision to make,” said Dr. Strife, “and sometimes we need to run further tests and consult with other physicians before making that decision.”

If you would like to discuss concerns or problems you may be experiencing or if your doctor has recommended that you see us for a vascular test, please contact us at (804) 828-2600 or email us.

 

What is an IVC Filter and how is it placed?

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are devices placed in patients who have a history or risk of developing DVT’s or blood clots in the legs or pelvis that may develop into pulmonary emboli, or a blood clot in the lungs. Your physician may recommend an IVC filter for the following conditions:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolus
  • Trauma victims
  • Immobility
  • Recent surgery or childbirth

Using image guidance, an IVC filter is inserted via a blood vessel. Typically, the vein in the groin, or the jugular vein in the neck is used. The IVC filter is then placed through the catheter and into the vein. Once it is in the correct position, the interventional radiologist will release the filter, allowing it to fully expand and attach itself to the walls of the blood vessel.

At the end of the procedure, the catheter will be removed and pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding. The opening in the skin is then covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed. Your intravenous line will then be removed to complete the procedure.

The procedure is usually completed within one hour.

 

Source: www.radiologyinfo.org