Flow freely.

Patients at high risk of developing blood clots may be eligible for an inferior vena cava (IVC) filters. Discover how the skilled physicians at Richmond Vascular Center perform this minimally invasive, life-saving intervention and if you are a candidate.

What to Know

An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a small metal device that traps large clot fragments and prevents them from traveling through the large vein in the abdomen to the heart and lungs. Without the insertion of IVC filters, blood clots could cause severe complications, such as pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or loss of life

Are you at risk?

IVC filters are commonly used in those who have a history of blood clots or are at risk of developing them. IVC filters are an excellent option and have a high rate of success for those who:

  • Have a history of blood clots
  • Are at high risk of developing blood clots
  • Have been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis
  • Have pulmonary embolus
  • Have suffered a traumatic injury
  • Have recently had surgery or delivered a baby
  • Don't respond to or cannot utilize conventional medical therapy, such as blood thinning agents

Know the Signs

Blood clots can form anywhere in your body where there is a blood supply. Symptoms will likely depend on the location where the clot is blocking blood flow, including:

  • Swelling, pain, warmth, or tenderness not related to an injury — especially in one or both of your legs
  • An area of discoloration (redness or blueness) in the skin on your legs
  • Sudden difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Quick, jumpy, or irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chest pain, especially if the pain worsens when you cough or breathe deeply
  • Coughing up blood

What to Expect

Historically, IVC filters were permanently implanted devices. Advances in technology have led to retrievable IVC filters which can be permanent or removed when there is no longer a risk of clotting. At Richmond Vascular Center, our expert interventional radiologists perform this procedure in a convenient, outpatient setting.

During the insertion of IVC filters, one of the interventional radiologists creates a small nick in the patient's neck or groin area. Using image guidance, a small tube known as a catheter is advanced through the vein from the neck or grain to the Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) in the abdomen. Once the catheter is correctly positioned, the IVC filter is released, allowing it to expand and attach itself to the walls of the blood vessel. This effectively prevents life-threatening blood clots from reaching the heart or lungs.

Numbing medicine is used at the access site. No other medication is required to insert an IVC filter. Therefore, you may drive yourself to and from this appointment. You will remain upright for four (4) hours after the procedure to decrease your chances of post procedure bleeding.

What to Expect

The removal of an IVC filter can be performed when the risk of the blood clot traveling to the heart or lung has passed. The procedure to remove the IVC filter is like that of its placement. A small nick is made in the neck and a small tube known as a catheter is inserted into the IVC vein using image guidance. The catheter captures the IVC filter via a small hook at the top, collapses and retracts the filter, and withdraws it from the body.

You will need a driver to transport you to your appointment, stay here, and drive you home after. Depending on how long you have had your IVC filter, you may require mild sedation for removal. An IV will be started before the procedure. There is minimal recovery time after this procedure. You will remain upright for four (4) hours after the procedure to decrease your chances of post procedure bleeding.

Sharing knowledge. Empowering Patients.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

At Richmond Vascular Center, our staff works to ensure that all referrals and authorizations are in place prior to your first visit.

How can I prevent blood clots?

People with blood clots don't have any symptoms until a complication occurs. For that reason, it's important to do what you can to lower your risk of developing a blood clot. Try to maintain a healthy weight, stay active, quit smoking, break up long periods of sitting, and know your genetic risk factors. Other risk factors are using birth control pills, surgery or injury, pregnancy, and being over 60 years of age. In some cases, your doctor may suggest compression garments or certain medications.