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Vena Cava Filter Placement: What to Expect at Home

Blood clot forming

Your Recovery

A vena cava filter was put into the vena cava using a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that was inserted through a vein in your neck or groin. A vena cava filter may help prevent blood clots from travelling to the lungs, where they may block blood flow. The filter may be permanent, or it may be removed later.

Vena cava filters may be used if you can't take a medicine (called a blood thinner) that prevents blood clots.

After having a vena cava filter placed, you may feel tired and have some pain for several days. You may have a small bandage where the catheter was placed.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Talk to your doctor about what activities you can do. You may not be able to do sports or exercises that use the upper body, such as tennis or weightlifting.
  • You may not be able to go swimming. Check with your doctor.
  • Don’t lift or carry anything heavier than 4.5 kg (10 lbs.) for 1 week. Slowly do a little more activity every day, as you feel ready, for the week after the procedure.


  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • If you had dye injected during the procedure, drink plenty of fluids to help your body flush out the dye. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also be given instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Care of the procedure site

  • You may have a dressing over the incision (the cut the doctor made). A dressing helps the incision heal and protects it.
  • Keep the first dressing in place until the morning after your procedure, then change the dressing as directed. If you were given instructions about how to change the dressing at home, follow those instructions carefully. Your doctor may arrange for home care or an outpatient clinic to do your dressing changes.
  • It is very important to keep the procedure site clean and dry.
    • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for 1 week or until it falls off.
    • If you have stitches, your doctor will arrange for them to be removed.
  • To help prevent infection, take a shower instead of a bath. You may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, if your doctor says it’s okay. Cover the procedure site with waterproof material, such as plastic wrap, so it doesn’t get wet. Do not scrub the procedure site. Pat it dry.
  • Do not use any creams, lotions, or ointments on the procedure site, unless your healthcare provider tells you to.
  • Avoid baths, hot tubs, and swimming.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You are bleeding through your dressing. A small amount of bleeding is normal.
  • You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.