What are vena cava filters for treating venous disease?

Vena cava filters are special devices that are inserted into the main vein (vena cava) to prevent blood clots from moving from the vein in the legs to the lung, which would result in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Why do I need vena cava filters?

Vena cava filters may be used as a venous disease treatment option for select patients who have a blood clot in a vein but cannot take anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, such as heparin or Coumadin, or for patients who are taking anticoagulants and continue to develop clots.

Where is the procedure performed and who performs this procedure?

The procedure is performed in the hospital by a vascular surgeon.

What are the risks and potential complications of the procedure?

Your doctor will discuss the specific risks and potential benefits of the recommended procedure with you. Placing vena cava filters is generally a very safe procedure. However as with any procedure, there may be risks. These risks include bleeding from the puncture site where the filter is placed within the vein, failure of the device to "catch" all of the blood clots leading to a pulmonary embolism, and complete blockage of the vein due to too much clot being trapped within the filter.

Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks, and there may be other possible risks. When you meet with your doctor, please ask questions to make sure you understand the risks of the procedure and why the procedure is recommended.

How do I find out if I am a candidate for this procedure?

To find out if you are a candidate for this procedure, please call the Vascular Surgery Department at 216.444.4508 or 800.223.2273 ext. 4-4508.