Instructions for Your Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Placement

This information will prepare you for your inferior vena cava (IVC) filter placement by the Interventional Radiology Department at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK).

About the IVC Filter

Figure 1.

The filter is a small device that will be placed in the large vein below the level of your heart, called the inferior vena cava (see Figure 1). The IVC filter will filter your blood to prevent a blood clot from traveling from your legs to your lungs. You need a filter either because you cannot receive medication to thin your blood (called anticoagulants), or because you need a filter in addition to blood thinners.

The filter is often placed before surgery by an interventional radiologist. It is usually placed in the IVC by going through a vein in your neck; however your doctor may place it by going through a vein in your groin. Going through a vein in your groin is not as common. Your doctor will position the filter in the vein using fluoroscopy (real-time x-rays).

The procedure will take about 30 minutes, however you should expect to be in the procedure room for about an hour. The doctor who placed the filter will see you in clinic usually 4 to 6 weeks after placement to evaluate when it is safe to be removed.

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Before Your Procedure

Ask about your medications

You may need to stop taking some of your medications before your procedure. Talk with your doctor about which medications are safe for you to stop.

If you take medication that affects the way your blood clots, ask the doctor performing your procedure what to do. The doctor’s contact information is listed at the end of this resource. Some examples of these medications are:

nonsteroidal anti-
inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
(subcutaneous shot)
(Azulfidine®, Sulfazine®)

Whether he or she recommends you stop taking it will depend on the reason why you are taking these medications. Do not stop taking any of these medications without talking with the doctor who prescribed them for you.

  • Please review the information in the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). It includes important information about medications you’ll need to avoid before your procedure and what medications you can take instead.
  • If you take insulin or other medications for diabetes, you may need to change the dose before your procedure. Ask the doctor who prescribes your diabetes medication about what you should do the night before and the morning of your procedure.

Arrange for someone to take you home

You must have someone 18 years or older take you home after your procedure. If you don’t have anyone, call one of the agencies below. They will provide someone to accompany you home, however there is usually a charge for this service and you will also need to provide your own transportation.

In New York
     Partners in Care 888-735-8913
     Prime Care 212-944-0244

In New York or New Jersey
     Caring People 877-227-4649

Tell us if you’re sick

If you develop any illness (fever, cold, sore throat, or flu) before your procedure, please call a nurse in Interventional Radiology at 212-639-2236. A nurse is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the Interventional Radiology fellow on call.

Note the time of your appointment

A staff member from Interventional Radiology will call you 2 business days before your procedure. He or she will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your procedure. If your procedure is scheduled on a Monday, you will be called on the Thursday before. If you don’t receive a call by 12:00 pm the business day before your procedure, please call 212-639-5051. If you need to cancel your procedure for any reason, please call the doctor who scheduled it for you.

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The Day of Your Procedure

Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of clear liquids (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. 12 ounces of clear liquid

Examples of clear liquids include:

  • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé (no particles of dried food or seasonings) 
  • Gelatin, such as Jell-O® 
  • Clear fruit juices (no pulp), such as white cranberry, white grape, or apple 
  • Soda, such as 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale, seltzer, or Gatorade® 
  • Coffee or tea, without milk or cream 

Things to remember

  • Take only the medications your doctor told you to take the morning of your procedure. Take them with a few sips of water.
  • Do not apply cream or petroleum jelly (Vaseline®). You can use deodorant and moisturizers. Do not wear eye make-up.
  • Remove any jewelry, including body piercings.
  • Leave all valuables, such as credit cards and jewelry, at home.
  • If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead, if possible. If you don’t have glasses, please bring a case for your contacts.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.

What to bring with you

  • A list of the medications you take at home
  • Medications for breathing problems (such as inhalers), and medications for chest pain, if you take any
  • A case for your glasses or contacts
  • Your Health Care Proxy form, if you have completed one
  • If you use a C-Pap or Bi-pap machine to sleep at night, please bring your machine with you, if possible. If you can’t bring your machine with you, we will give you one to use while you are in the hospital.

Where to park

Memorial Hospital
1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065

Parking at MSK is available in the garage on East 66th Street between First and York Avenues. To reach the garage, enter East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter of a block toward First Avenue, on the right (north) side of the street. A pedestrian tunnel connects the garage to the hospital. For questions about pricing, call 212-639-2338. There are also nearby commercial garages on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues and on East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Please arrive at the main building of MSK at 1275 York Avenue between East 67th and East 68th Streets. Take the M elevator to the 2nd floor. Enter through the glass doors and check in at the desk.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Westchester
500 Westchester Avenue, West Harrison, NY 10604

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What to expect

Once you arrive, doctors, nurses, and other staff members will ask you to state and spell your name and date of birth many times. This is for your safety. People with the same or similar names may be having procedures on the same day.

If you don’t have an intravenous (IV) catheter, your nurse will put one in.

After your procedure

You will go to the recovery room after the procedure, and stay until you’re awake.

When you go home

  • Leave the bandage on the insertion site for 24 hours.
  • Do not shower for 24 hours.
  • It is common for the incision site to feel sore. This pain should get better within a day or 2. You can take over-the-counter pain medication if you need it.
  • Wearing a seatbelt may put pressure on your incisions. If so, you can put a small pillow or folded towel between the strap and your body.
  • For the first few days, you should avoid certain activities such as exercises that involve forceful reaching or stretching.
  • Watch for signs of infection at the insertion site, although infections are not common. Signs of infection include:
    • A temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher
    • Pain
    • Foul-smelling drainage
    • Redness
    • Swelling
  • If you see any signs of infection, call Interventional Radiology at the numbers at the bottom of this resource.
  • Once your incision is closed you can take tub baths and swim. This usually takes about a week.
  • You can still have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while you have an IVC filter, but it is important to tell the healthcare provider at the radiology facility each time to be safe.
  • The filter will not set off metal detectors.
  • The doctor who placed the filter will see you in clinic usually 4 to 6 weeks after placement to evaluate when it is safe to be removed.
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Contact Information

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Interventional Radiology at 212-639-2236. You can reach a staff member Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call 212-639-2000 and ask for the fellow on call for Interventional Radiology.

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