Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Removal

Our Approach to Treatment

The internationally renowned vascular surgeons at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center are leading experts in inferior vena cava (IVC) filter removal. We address concerns and provide the expertise needed, when appropriate, to remove IVC filters.

Our surgeons at Houston Methodist Cardiovascular Surgery Associates offer patients:
  • Second opinions and advice about their IVC filters, responding to a nationwide call for patients to file lawsuits against filter manufacturers because of complications
  • Consultation in filter complication management
  • A variety of filter removal techniques, including robotic-guided removal

IVC filters are surgically implanted into more than 250,000 patients annually nationwide, our specialists estimate. These filters have been used for decades to prevent pulmonary embolisms, the passage of blood clots from the legs into the lungs. However, while effective in selected patients, they can cause serious complications. 

Once implanted, the earliest devices were not retrievable. As a result, retrievable filters (or option filters) were developed. But in 2010, the FDA warned these retrievable filters could cause complications, including migration into adjacent organs. In 2014, the FDA recommended filters be removed as soon as possible after implantation, ideally within 29 to 54 days. 

In 2015, Alan Lumsden, MD, director of DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, performed the world's first intravascular robot-assisted retrieval of an IVC filter at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Currently, our experts robotically remove nearly three dozen IVC filters annually and have the ability to accommodate even more patients seeking IVC filter removal. Robotic systems, with advanced, 3-D imaging, also allow our surgeons to remove filters that are tilted, fractured or embedded in the IVC wall and otherwise would require open surgery.

IVC filter removal also can be performed nonrobotically throughout Houston Methodist.

Patients with IVC filters must be evaluated regarding filter removal risks and benefits. Filter implantation is relatively simple, which may have contributed to their overuse. However, removal can be challenging and potentially hazardous. To be a candidate for this procedure, removal must be less risky than leaving a filter in place. Our specialists have the experience to make this assessment. 

A surgeon inserts a small, catheter-based wire loop into the large vein in the neck. The surgeon uses the loop to retrieve the filter.

IVC Filter Removal

Watch Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center surgeons retrieve a patient’s inferior vena cava filter.
Related Research
Open Removal of Penetrating Inferior Vena Cava Filter with Repair of Secondary Aortic Dissection: Case Report. Chauhan Y, Al Jabbari O, Abu Saleh WK, Loh T, Ali I, Lumsden A. Ann Vasc Surg. 2016 Apr;32:130.e9-12. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2015.10.033. Epub 2016 Jan 22.

Early Technical and Clinical Results with Retrievable Inferior Vena Caval Filters. Lam RC, Bush RL, Lin PH, Lumsden AB. Vascular. 2004 Jul-Aug;12(4):233-7.

The Regained Referral Ground and Clinical Practice of Vena Cava Filter Placement in Vascular Surgery. Lin PH, Kulbaski MJ, Terramani TT, Bush RL, Brinkman WT, Chen C, Conklin B, Lumsden AB. Am Surg. 2002 Oct;68(10):865-70.

Endovascular Retrieval of a Trapease IVC Filter. Zack Nash, MD, Jean Bismuth, MD, Alan Lumsden, MD, FRCS, Carlos F. Bechara, MD, MS. Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas. Journal of Vascular Surgery, June 2016, Volume 63, Issue 6, Supplement, Page 232S.

Robot-Assisted Removal of Inferior Vena Cava Filters. Ali Irshad, MD, Ponraj Chinnadurai, Alan B. Lumsden, M.D. Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX, USA. The Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery, 44th annual symposium, March 12-16, 2016, Las Vegas, Nev.

Venous Thromboembolic Disease. Editors Mark G. Davies, Alan B. Lumsden, Cardiotext Publishing, 2011.

It Wasn't Cupid: Multimodality Imaging of Inferior Vena Cava Filter Fracture with Strut Migration to the Interventricular Septum: Case Report. Kassi M, Lopez J, Barker C, Trerotola S, Kleiman N, Kurrelmeyer K. Methodist DeBakey Cardiovasc J. 2014 Jul-Sep;10(3):198-200. 

Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center
6565 Fannin St.
Houston, TX 77030