Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filters for Blood Clots | MedStar Health

A tool to catch blood clots before they reach the lungs

The inferior vena cava (IVC) is a large vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower body back to the heart. If you have deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot has formed in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually the legs. If these blood clots break loose, it can travel through the inferior vena cava to the heart and lungs and cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as a pulmonary embolism.

An IVC filter is a small, wiry device that can stop blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs. Once the IVC filter is placed using a minimally invasive procedure, blood flows past the filter but clots are trapped.

What to expect during IVC filter placement

You may be asked to not eat or drink before the procedure. An IV will be inserted in your arm or hand to provide sedation to relax you. A small amount of hair on your neck or groin area may be shaved where the incision will be made.

The surgeon will make a small puncture in your neck or groin and insert a long, flexible tube called a catheter that carries the filter. Using X-ray, the surgeon will guide the catheter to the inferior vena cava and place the filter, which will attach itself to the walls of the blood vessel. The catheter will then be removed and you will be taken to a recovery area to be monitored for several hours. You likely will be able to return home the same day.


Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

A blood clot that typically affects the legs and arms and can travel through the bloodstream to the heart, lungs, or brain and cause a stroke or pulmonary embolism.

May-thurner syndrome (MTS)

A compression of the main vein in your left leg between the right pelvic artery and the spine. This compression can cause deep vein thrombosis or chronic venous insufficiency.


Computerized tomography (CT) scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


A fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses a continuous X-ray beam passed through the body to create real-time, moving images of your internal structures.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets, and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Our locations

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MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Harbor Hospital

3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

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