Inferior Vena Cava filters are small, umbrella-shaped pieces used to block blood clots from travelling through the inferior vena cava, a large vein carrying blood from the lower body to the heart. When a cluster of blood forms in one of the major arteries in the lower body, there is the potential risk it can break loose and travel to the heart or lungs, causing a blockage that may lead to a pulmonary embolism or heart failure.
IVC Filter Symptoms and Diagnosis
Blood clots in the lower body can occur within those who have been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolus, as well as patients who have dealt with excess bleeding through injury or pregnancy. The symptoms do not always occur immediately, but can include:
- Pain, cramping or swelling of the lower extremities
- Visible veins
- Discolored skin
Your primary care physician will likely require image testing (CT, ultrasound, X-ray), as well as blood tests to determine how the blood is clotting.
Treatment Options using IVC Filters
IVC filters are commonly used in patients who have been diagnosed with VTE (venous thromboembolism), or more specifically DVT (deep vein thrombosis), or when blood thinners are unable to prevent clotting in the major arteries. The procedure for inserting permanent and retrievable filters is identical; a small tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery in either the neck or the groin, and using X-ray imaging, your interventional radiologist will guide the tube to the affected blood vessel. Once the filter is placed, it will prevent clots from entering the blood stream, though this is not a treatment for DVT.
Our interventional radiology team uses advanced techniques to place IVC filters including:
For More Information
To schedule an appointment with one of our interventional radiologists, please call 847.570.2160.