Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closures

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closures

A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a flap-like opening between the two upper chambers of the heart, known as the left and right atria. In the womb all babies have an opening and after birth the flaps normally close to form a solid wall called a septum between the chambers. If the PFO does not close, the defect remains open and can permit blood that is normally filtered by the lungs, to pass unfiltered into the left atrium and out to the body including to the brain. Research indicates that persons suffering from PFO may have an increased risk of stroke. PFOs do not present any symptoms and some people may not be aware that they have the defect.

Interventional cardiologists may recommend closing the PFO using cardiac catheterization to insert a plug in the opening. The procedure, just as with other types of cardiac catheterization, involves the insertion of a long flexible catheter tube in the femoral artery. This is guided by the cardiologist into the heart. PFO closures may also be performed in tandem during open heart surgery undertaken to repair some other heart defect.

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