A vena cava filter helps prevent blood clots from travelling from your lower limbs to your lungs and heart. The clots may block blood flow in the lungs or heart. A clot that travels to the lungs may cause serious problems or even death.
The filter is shaped like an umbrella. It is placed in the large vein that returnsblood to the heart from the belly and legs. This vein is called the inferior vena cava.
Your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter through a vein in your neck or groin and then into the vena cava. Next, the doctor uses the catheter to place the filter. The filter may be permanent or may be removed later.
Vena cava filters may be used if you have problems taking a medicine (called a blood thinner) that prevents bloodclots.
Most people go home a few hours after the procedure. You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in a day or two.
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 call line 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.
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
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Current as of: November 21, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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