Q: I have a retrievable IVC filter. Must it be removed?
A: The answer is no. Retrievable IVC filters are also known as “optional” IVC filters because most are designed to function as a permanent IVC filter with the option to be removed. That being said, if there is not a clear indication to keep a filter in place, it should be removed in order to avoid the long-term complications of an IVC filter.
Q: Is there a period of time after which my filter cannot be removed?
A: The answer to this question depends somewhat on the type of filter involved. For most filter designs, my personal feeling is that the answer to this question is a definitive no. Many physicians who are relatively inexperienced with removing IVC filters will quote arbitrary time limits on the order of 6 to 12 months. I have been fortunate enough to have gained extensive experience removing filters that have been in place in excess of 5 years. Some have been in place for over 8 years.
Q: Someone else tried to remove my filter and failed. Might it still be possible to remove the filter?
A: It may be possible to remove a filter even after someone has tried to remove it unsuccessfully. There is a growing body of literature about advanced techniques that can be used to removed filters that are in difficult configurations. The experience and technical expertise of physicians who provide filter removal services vary greatly. If you are in this situation, I would strongly encourage you to seek a second option from someone with extensive experience removing IVC filters.