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What You Need To Know About An IVC Filter

Here is a good article about IVC filters that I ran across and wanted to share it.  It was posted on ArticleTom.com:

An inferior vena cava or IVC filter is a medical device which helps prevent the existence of a condition known as pulmonary embolism. This is implanted into the inferior vena cava using a catheter, often performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure is done either by vascular surgeons or interventional radiologists.

Made out of very thin metal wires, its mesh-like design makes it look like a small umbrella. Its structure enables it to trap clots in the blood stream coming from the body’s lower portions, so they’re kept from getting to the lungs or heart. There are models which are designed in such a way that they may be left in their places permanently. Some, however, are designed to be retrievable after some time of being in the vein.

There are various reasons why an individual has to be implanted with the device. One is when anticoagulants fail to work. Anticoagulants are medications which thin the blood and prevent it from clotting. Likewise, it can also dissolve clots. Another reason is when intake of anticoagulants isn’t recommendable, such as when certain conditions are around.

Anticoagulants may have trouble dissolving large clots. Individuals who are detected with such are usually advised to get the device implanted in them. A person who has recently undergone an injury like a head trauma or fracture in the pelvis may require it. Those who are susceptible to having pulmonary embolism or have had deep vein thrombosis before may also be advised by a doctor to get the device.

Blood clots should be kept out of the lungs. When pulmonary embolism takes place, a clot blocks the supply of blood in some parts of the lungs. Someone who has it may experience troubled breathing, chest pain and dizziness. Bluish skin color is also observed on the individual due to oxygen deprivation. In some instances, it can also cause death.

The device is placed into the inferior vena cava through some large veins in the body. They include the femoral (groin), jugular (neck) and basilic (arm) veins. Inserted into any of these is a catheter, a thin rubber tube. The device is pushed into this catheter, guided by the use of a Doppler ultrasound. Fluoroscopic guidance, or x-ray, may also be used when contrast dye is injected before the procedure.

Originally it was through surgical means that such procedure is done. But thanks to design changes, vascular surgeons or interventional radiologists can put it in place via a catheter. Usually, local anesthesia is used, although it’s possible that the individual may also be given drugs to relieve anxiety. Sometimes, general anesthesia may be used instead.

As mentioned earlier, an IVC filter may permanent or temporary, depending on the design. What makes a temporary model different from a permanent one is the presence of a small hook or knob on one end. Likewise, it also has a collapsible structure. This allows the device to be pulled out safely of the inferior vena cava through a catheter. However, it may also be left in place for good, just like a permanent model.