Pulmonary Embolism and Inferior Vena Cava Filter (IVC Filter)


Pulmonary embolism (PE) is an occlusion of the pulmonary artery or one of its branches by thrombus, which got detached and has traveled from other site via the venous circulation causing obstruction (embolism).

Thrombus usually originates from the deep leg veins or pelvic area. Symptoms are often non-specific and can mimic other pathological conditions:

  • chest pain on inspiration,
  • difficulty breathing and palpitations,
  • coughing up the blood (hemoptysis).

Pulmonary embolism is a serious complication and needs to be treated urgently. The first line of treatment is with anticoagulants (heparin and warfarin) and catheter guided thrombolysis of the clot when indicated.

Inferior Vena Cava Filter (IVC Filter) is a type of vascular filter used to prevent pulmonary embolism by catching the emboli before it reaches the heart. In patients with diagnosed deep vein thrombosis part of the thrombus can detach and travel from the affected vein toward the heart causing pulmonary embolism.

IVC filter is used when there is a contraindication for anticoagulant therapy (cerebral hemorrhage) or if the anticoagulation treatment proved to be ineffective. An IVC filter is catheter-guided and implanted in the inferior vena cava below the renal veins. IVC filter reduces the risk of acute or subacute thromboembolitic complications, and can be placed on a temporary or permanent basis.