Inferior vena cava filters are temporarily inserted into the vein to capture blood clots and prevent them from moving to the heart, lungs, or brain.
An inferior vena cava filter (IVC filter) is a type of vascular filter, a medical device that is implanted by interventional radiologists or vascular surgeons into the inferior vena cava to prevent life-threatening pulmonary emboli (PEs). The American College of Chest Physicians recommends IVC filters for those with contraindications to anticoagulation who either have acute PE or acute proximal (above the knee) deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
IVC filters are placed endovascularly, meaning that they are inserted via the blood vessels. Historically, IVC filters were placed surgically, but with modern filters that can be compressed into much thinner catheters, access to the venous system can be obtained via the femoral vein (the large vein in the groin), the internal jugular vein (the large vein in the neck) or the arm veins with one design. Choice of route depends mainly on the number and location of any blood clot within the venous system. To place the filter, a catheter is guided into the IVC using fluoroscopic guidance, then the filter is pushed through the catheter and deployed into the desired location, usually just below the junction of the IVC and the lowest renal vein.
Last updated: 26-Feb-13