Vena Cava Filter Placement: What to Expect at Home
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?
- If the doctor gave you a sedative:
- For 24 hours, don't do anything that requires attention to detail, such as going to work, making important decisions, or signing any legal documents. It takes time for the medicine's effects to completely wear off.
- For your safety, do not drive or operate any machinery that could be dangerous. Wait until the medicine wears off and you can think clearly and react easily.
- Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift, pull, or push anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for a couple of days. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking.
- If the catheter was placed in your groin, try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days.
- 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.
- Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- 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 catheter site
- Keep a bandage over the spot where the catheter was inserted for the first day, or for as long as your doctor recommends. It is very important to keep this area clean and dry.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Do this for the first few days only. If the area stays sore for more than a few days, talk to your doctor or nurse.
- If your doctor says it is okay, you may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Pat the incision dry. Do not put creams, lotions, and ointments on the catheter site.
- Do not soak the catheter site in a bath, hot tub, or swimming pool until it is completely healed (no longer a scab).
- Watch for bleeding from the site. A small amount of blood (up to the size of a quarter) on the bandage can be normal.
- If you are bleeding through your dressing or have a growing lump on the area, put pressure on the area and call your doctor or 811 or get immediate medical care.
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 811 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 811 if you have any problems.
Adaptation Date: 2/24/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services