Patients with patent foramen ovale (PFO) have a hole in the wall that divides the upper left and upper right chambers of the heart. Normally, the foramen ovale opening should grow closed at birth or shortly thereafter, but in some individuals the hole remains open.
For many this condition does not produce any symptoms and does not have to be treated. However, in some cases, blood clots in the heart may move through a patent foramen ovale, travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
A patent foramen ovale can also cause a significant amount of blood to bypass the lungs, resulting in low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia). This usually happens when other conditions are present, such as congenital or valvular heart disease or pulmonary hypertension.
Minimally Invasive PFO Closure Procedure
The minimally-invasive PFO closure procedure performed by the PinnacleHealth CardioCascular Institute surgeons may eliminate the need for open-heart surgery in certain patients who need a PFO closure. The procedure may also prevent the need for PFO patients to be on life-long drug therapy to prevent strokes.
In this procedure a closure device that plugs the PFO is implanted via a catheter that is threaded through a vein from the groin to the heart. The doctor guides the device with the imaging assistance of an electrocardiogram.
The closure procedure for a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) is relatively painless and does not require any surgical incisions. In many cases the procedure takes only about 30 minutes to two hours, and patients are often able to go leave the hospital the same day or after an overnight stay, returning home with minimal restrictions on normal physical activity.
Before you leave the hospital, a chest X-ray and/or echocardiogram will be performed to make sure the device is still positioned properly.