In an inferior vena cava filter placement procedure, the physician uses image guidance to place a filter in the inferior vena cava (IVC), the large vein in the abdomen that returns blood from the lower body to the heart. The most common approach is to gain access to the jugular vein in the neck, using ultrasound guidance initially.
Blood clots that develop in the veins of the leg or pelvis, a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), occasionally break up and large pieces of the clot can travel to the lungs. An IVC filter traps large clot fragments and prevents them from traveling through the vena cava vein to the heart and lungs, where they could cause severe complications or even death.
Until recently, IVC filters were available only as permanently implanted devices. Newer filters, called optionally retrievable filters, may be left in place permanently or have the option to potentially be removed from the blood vessel later. This removal may be performed when the risk of clot travelling to the lung has passed. Removal of an IVC filter eliminates any long-term risks of having the filter in place. It does not address the cause of the deep vein thrombosis or coagulation. Your referring physician will determine if blood thinners are still necessary. However, not all retrievable IVC filters are able to be retrieved. These filters can be safely left in place as permanent filters.
Removal of an IVC Filter can be as easy as placing one. Using ultrasound guidance, the physician will access the jugular vein. In order to grab the filter, a snare or retrieval device is used to pull it out through the access sheath.