Benefits vs. Risks of an inferior Vena Cava Filter Placement or Removal

Inferior Vena Cava Filter Benefits

  • No surgical incision is needed—only a small nick in the skin that does not have to be stitched closed.
  • The IVC filter allows patients to avoid the side affects of medications called blood thinners that prevent blood clots from forming.

Inferior Vena Cava Filter Risks

  • Any procedure where the skin is penetrated carries a risk of infection. The chance of infection requiring antibiotic treatment appears to be less than one in 1,000.
  • There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected.
  • Any procedure that involves placement of a catheter inside a blood vessel carries certain risks. These risks include damage to the blood vessel, bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, and infection.
  • There is a chance that the IVC filter can lodge in the wrong place, change position or injure a nearby organ.
  • The IVC filter may break loose and travel to the heart or lungs causing injury or death.
  • Rarely, IVC filers become so filled with clots that they block all flow in the blood vessel, causing swelling in the legs.
  • In some cases, retrievable filters cannot be removed.