What is an IVC Filter?
An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a cone-shaped medical device implanted in the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries deoxygenated blood into the heart, just below the kidneys. The filter features struts, or legs, designed to capture blood clots that have broken free from one of the deep veins in the legs, to keep them from traveling to the heart and lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. Some blood clot filters are permanent and others are temporary, or retrievable, designed to be removed once the risk of pulmonary embolism has subsided. The potential issue with retrievable IVC filters is that they are sometimes left in the body for too long, which makes them more difficult to remove and which may further increase the risk of filter complications.