Vena Cava Filter Placement: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Blood clot forming

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 helps prevent blood clots from travelling to the lungs and heart, 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 have problems taking 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?

Activity

  • Take it easy for a day or two. Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. 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.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Do this every few hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

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.

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 sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call 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 symptoms of a blood clot in your leg, such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.

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

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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