Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure

The Structural Heart and Valve Disease team at the Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute and the Swedish Neuroscience Institute work together to offer a closure procedure for patients who have had a stroke with no known cause.

A human fetus naturally has a hole in the wall (septum) between the left atrium and the right atrium (the two upper chambers of the heart). This hole is called the patent foramen ovale or PFO. About 25 percent of people have a hole that didn’t close completely, which allows blood to leak from the right atrium to the left atrium, rather than going to the lungs first. Usually, this isn’t a problem and individuals can live normal lives with an unclosed PFO.

Sometimes, however, an open PFO can be a “side door” that allows very small blood clots, which the lungs normally filter out of the blood, to bypass the lungs and travel to the brain.

PFO closure is a catheter-based procedure where your cardiologist will make a small incision in your groin and then thread a catheter through a vein and up to your heart and the area where the hole is located. Your doctor will then use the catheter to deliver the closure device. Over time, your own tissue will grow over the device, making it permanent.

The closure procedure takes about one hour. Most patients remain overnight in the hospital after a PFO closure procedure.

Studies have shown that closing a PFO may be as good as drug therapy in limiting blood clots and reducing your risk of stroke.

Providers Specializing in Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure

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