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Vena Cava Filter Removal: What to Expect at Home

Blood clot forming

Your Recovery

A vena cava filter may help prevent blood clots from travelling to your lungs, where they may block blood flow. Your doctor removed your vena cava filter using a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that was put into your vein.

A filter is removed to avoid problems that can happen if the filter is left in your vein for a long time.

You may go home the same day after the procedure. You may be able to return to work or your normal routine in a day or two.

After having a vena cava filter removed, 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?


  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • The first 24 hours after your procedure: Do not drive or operate equipment. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. If you feel unsteady, have someone walk with you.
  • Do not do strenuous exercise or hard activity for at least 1 to 2 weeks or until your doctor says this is okay.
  • If the catheter was in your groin: Do not lift any heavy objects (more than 4.5 kg or 10 pounds) for 3 days after your procedure. Avoid using stairs where possible for a couple days. Take 1 step at a time, and always lead with the leg that did not have the catheter.
  • If the catheter was in your wrist or arm: Do not lift any heavy objects (more than 2.5 kg or 5 lb.) for 3 days after your procedure. Do not bend your wrist deeply. Be careful when using your wrist and hand to get into and out of a chair or bed. Avoid having your blood pressure checked or an intravenous (I.V.) started on the arm used during the procedure for 24 hours.


  • 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 will have a dressing over the incision (the cut the doctor made). A dressing helps the incision heal and protects it.
  • You may have a closure device to help seal the incision. This will help reduce your time on bedrest after the procedure.
  • After 24 hours, if your doctor says it is okay, you may remove the dressing and take a shower. Pat the incision dry. Avoid creams, lotions, and ointments on the procedure site. Put on a new dressing every day until the incision is healed.
  • Do not soak the procedure site in a bath, hot tub, or swimming pool until it is completely healed (no longer a scab).
  • Keep the procedure site clean and watch for bleeding. A small amount of blood (up to the size of a quarter) on the bandage can be normal.

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?

If you start bleeding more than is normal or have a fast-growing, painful lump at the procedure site, call 911 and do the following:

  1. Lie down and call for help (family or friend).
  2. Apply pressure using your fingers or fist at the procedure site. Hold this pressure for 20 minutes.
  3. If the bleeding stops—lie still, keep flat until emergency help arrives.
  4. If the bleeding does not stop—keep firm pressure to the procedure site until emergency help arrives.

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 procedure 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 811 if you have any problems.

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