Unretrieved IVC Filters Pose Risk to Patients

Retrievable filters should be removed as soon as possible

Retrievable IVC filters are designed to be removed. These devices are inserted to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs and causing potentially fatal pulmonary embolisms (PE). The problem is, only about 20 to 30 percent of patients actually get IVC filters taken out even once it’s safe to do so.

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Ideally, filters should
be removed as soon
as possible.

IVC Filter FAQs

1. Why should IVC filters be removed?

Filters do carry some low risks. They can cause blockage of the iliac veins or the vena cava if they are not properly monitored and/or removed.

2. When should IVC filters be removed?

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Ideally, filters should be removed as soon as possible—the longer they stay in, the more difficult they are to retrieve. An experienced physician or surgeon will remove the filter once the PE risk has diminished. Or, if the patient can begin tolerating blood thinners, there is no reason to keep the IVC filter.

IVC Filter

IVC Filter

3. How are IVC filters removed?

Before an IVC filter is removed, a venagram is done to take X-ray pictures of the blood flow through the veins. If there’s no longer a need for the filter, it can be removed during an outpatient procedure using equipment especially designed for the job. It doesn’t hurt and it’s a minimally invasive process.

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IVC filter retrieval at Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic’s IVC Filter Retrieval Clinic is dedicated to caring for patients with retrievable IVC filters. A team of specialists evaluates patients’ conditions and determines if and when it’s time to remove a filter. The focus is on safety and timeliness, since the majority of retrievable IVC filters implanted in patients are never removed.

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