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Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closure

Patent foramen ovale closure is an effective, minimally invasive treatment to close a hole in the heart.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is an opening in the heart that didn’t close after birth. This hole is found between the right and left upper chambers of the heart and normally closes during infancy. Most people don’t know they have a PFO unless it is discovered while undergoing tests for another condition. Treatment is often recommended only if the patient is dealing with recurrent strokes with no clear cause.

Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute is home to highly skilled cardiac surgeons and heart specialists who handle a broad range of common and complex heart conditions. Our team treats PFO conditions with a catheter-based closure procedure that has a high rate of success.

PFO Closure Details

At TGH, our PFO closure uses a catheter that is guided through a blood vessel to access the heart valve. It involves making a small incision, typically near the groin, to insert the catheter (the PFO closure device will be inside the catheter).

From there, the following happens:

  • Using imaging technology, the catheter is guided through the blood vessel until it reaches the heart.
  • Once in place, the catheter will release the closure device and it will straddle both sides of the hole to seal it.
  • The closure device will remain there permanently while the catheter is removed from the blood vessel and the incision stitched.

What to Expect From a PFO Closure

The catheter-based PFO closure is a minimally invasive procedure, which means the recovery period is generally shorter and less intense than with traditional, open surgery. While some patients may need to stay overnight at the hospital (patients must rest in bed for six hours after device implantation), others can go home the evening of the procedure.

Complications from a PFO closure are uncommon, but may include:

  • Heart or blood vessel damage
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dislodgement of the device

Effectiveness of a PFO Closure

Studies on the effectiveness of a PFO closure are still being done, but some clinical trials comparing this procedure with medication therapy have been completed. A study analyzing these trials reports that patients who received a PFO closure had a decrease of recurrent strokes afterward, compared to patients who received only medication therapy.

Whether or not you undergo a PFO closure is a highly individualized decision, and the skilled cardiologists and cardiac surgeons at TGH can help you determine the right choice for you. We emphasize an excellent patient experience by delivering comprehensive resources, world-class outcomes and advanced technologies.