HF 8279

Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Placement in Cath Lab

You have been scheduled to have an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placed at UW Health University Hospital.

Go to this location at University Hospital:
 G3/3 Radiology Waiting Area
 F6/3 Heart and Vascular Procedure Center

You should plan to stay for 4 to 6 hours.

What is an IVC Filter?

An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a device used to trap blood clots before they reach the heart and lungs. The inferior vena cava is a large vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart and lungs. The filter is used to trap blood clots before they reach the heart and lungs. IVC filters may or may not be left in for a brief amount of time.

Why do I need this filter?

This filter is used because you are at risk of blood clots traveling to the heart and lungs.
What is some of the risks with IVC filter placement?
Your doctor will review your risks with the IVC filter placement. Please write any questions to discuss with your doctor when you meet to discuss procedure.

How Is It Inserted?

The IVC filter is inserted through a small tube (catheter) placed in your groin or your neck vein. The small tube is advanced to the site where the IVC filter will be placed. The IVC filter is released once in place. The small tube is removed, and pressure will be held at the insertion site to reduce bleeding.

NOTE: Be sure to tell your doctor or nurse if you are allergic to x-ray dye (contrast). This may require pre-treatment medication.

Getting Ready

  • A nurse will call you a few days before to give you instructions and information.

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight or earlier if so told. If your procedure is scheduled for late morning or later, you will be told if you can have a liquid breakfast.

  • Bring a list of your medicines including inhalers, over the counter medicines and supplements.

  • If you use a CPAP or BiPAP machine for breathing, bring it with you. Bring the hoses and mask.

  • You must have a responsible adult drive you home and stay with you for at least 6 hours after getting home.

The Day of the Procedure

  • Take your medicine as instructed. You may have been asked not to take some medicines before the procedure.

  • Please arrive at the time you were told.

  • You will change into a gown (without snaps). You may want to wear anti-slip socks; the room is kept very cool.

  • Remove watches, earrings, necklaces, or medic alert bracelets.

  • Glasses and hearing aids can be worn.

  • Remove contact lenses. Bring your solution and case for storage.

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In the Lab Room

  • You will be helped onto the table.

  • You will lie flat so that the x-ray machine can rotate around the upper part of your body.

  • If you have back problems, tell the staff so that they can help you find a more comfortable position.

  • Patches will be placed on your upper body. These patches are hooked to machines that show your heartbeat.

Procedure Site

Your doctor will tell you which location will be used for the procedure. This area will be cleaned.

You will be covered from your head to feet with a sterile sheet. Once the sheet is placed over you, keep your arms at your side. If you need to move your arms, ask the nurse to guide you.

The Procedure

  1. Your doctor will inject a small amount of medicine into the site. It will burn a little, it will quickly numb the area. This will prevent you from feeling pain at this site. You will feel pressure, pulling, and tugging at the site where the tube is inserted.

  2. You will be given medicine for pain and to make you sleepy. You will be sleepy but able to talk with staff.

  3. After numbing the site, the doctor will insert a small needle and small tube (called a catheter) in the vein. An IVC filter or removal catheter is passed through the tube up to the location for release (placement) or hook (removal).


During the procedure, your doctor may ask you to take a deep breath, hold your breath, or breathe normally.

For deep breaths, breathe in slowly, as if sucking through a straw. No short, jerky breaths. Hold the breath until told to breathe normally. A deep breath helps us see your heart better. When asked to breathe normally again, gently let your breath out so that the small tubes remain in place.

After the Procedure

The doctor will remove the small tube. They will hold pressure on the site to stop any bleeding. You will return to a room to recover. Your nurse will tell you when you can get out of bed after you return to your room.

Home Care

  • Do not drive

  • Do not make important decisions

  • No dangerous activities

  • Do not drink alcohol until the next day.

  • Remove the bandage after 24 hours. Shower by letting soap and water flow over the site.

  • Do not scrub or rub the site.

  • Do not put any lotions, powders, perfumes, or colognes on the site.

  • Do not lift, push, or pull more than 10 pounds or a jug of milk for 1 week after your test.

  • Do not swim, go in a hot tub, or take a bath in a bathtub for 1 week.

  • Follow the discharge instructions provided by nurse on day of procedure.

Check daily for signs of infection:

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Warm or hot at the site

  • Foul smelling pus

  • Fever of 100° F or higher for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart

Your doctor will let you know if your device will be removed and when.

How Is It Removed?

The IVC filter is removed through a small tube (catheter) placed in your neck vein. The small tube is advanced to the site where the IVC filter is located. The IVC filter is “hooked” and removed. The small tube is removed, and pressure will be held at the insertion site to reduce bleeding.

Follow up Visits

When to Call

If the site starts to bleed, apply direct pressure for 5 minutes without letting go. If the bleeding or oozing stops, watch it and call to report any concerns. If it continues to
bleed, continue holding firm pressure and go to the closest emergency room or hospital.

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these heart symptoms:

  • Any signs of infection

  • Chest, arm, neck jaw, back and belly pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Excessive sweating

  • Swelling of the legs

Who to Call

UW Health Radiology Department
Monday - Friday from 7:30 AM to 4 PM. Ask for the Radiology Nurse Coordinator.
(608)-263-9729, prompt #3

After hours, weekends and holidays, this number will be answered by the Paging Operator. Ask for the Interventional Radiologist on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.

Toll Free 1-800-323-8942.

UW Health Cardiovascular Medicine Clinic (608)-263-1530.