Frequently Asked Questions

What is an IVC filter? 
As defined by the Food and Drug Administration, IVC filters are small, cage-like devices that are inserted into the inferior vena cava to capture blood clots and prevent them from reaching the lungs. The inferior vena cava is the main vessel returning blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. IVC filters are frequently placed in patients at risk for pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs) when anticoagulant therapy cannot be used or is ineffective. IVC filters are designed to be permanent implants, although some of these devices may have the option to be removed.

Why are some IVC filters removable and others not removable? 
In the early 2000s there was a change in the design that made once unremovable filters removable through minimally invasive outpatient surgery. 

How do I know what kind of IVC filter I have? 
You should have a medical summary card that states what type of device was used during your procedure. If you no longer have the medical summary card, please contact your cardiologist to determine what type of device you have. 

Why was my filter not removed during the FDA recommended amount of time? 
While the filters are removable, physician and medical device companies originally thought these devices could remain in place as a precautionary method of treatment. It was only recently that the FDA raised the level of concern for the life of these devices.

When should my filter be removed? 
The FDA now recommends that any removable filters be removed as soon as the risk of pulmonary embolism has subsided. The guidelines now state that removal should take place within 29 to 54 days if at all possible. 

What signs and symptoms will I have if I need to have my filter removed?
You will not likely experience signs and symptoms unless your filter has moved. If you experience chest pain, dizziness or if you are sick in any way, please contact your physician immediately.
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