Home > Uncategorized > Closing the gap: The surgical management of patent foramen ovale

Closing the gap: The surgical management of patent foramen ovale

March 5, 2013

Some holes are meant to be closed.


Image Source: consultantlive.com

Image Source: consultantlive.com


This especially holds true for the foramen ovale, an opening in the septum that separates the two atrial chambers of the heart. Fetuses need this opening to facilitate fetal circulation, to expedite the travel of blood through the heart. Upon birth, however, the foramen ovale normally closes as a result of the increasing pressure from the left side of the heart. In rare cases, the atrial septum fails to close properly, resulting to a condition known as patent foramen ovale (PFO).

In this defect, the foramen ovale begins to work like a flap valve, a folded structure that opens only in cases of increased chest pressure. In such cases, blood may travel from the right atrium to left atrium. While a person with PFO can live asymptomatically for a time, complications may arise when clots or particles in the blood cross to the left atrium. These may travel to the heart and even to the brain, causing myocardial infarctions (heart attack) or cerebrovascular accident (stroke).


Surgical management for PFO

Treatment for PFO is usually withheld as patients are generally in normal condition. In cases of coexisting heart conditions or the presence of the abovementioned complication, patients are recommended to undergo a procedure known as “cardiac catheterization.”


Image Source: .bostonscientific.com

Image Source: bostonscientific.com


Cardiac catheterization to close PFO is a quick procedure, and usually lasts for 1 to 2 hours. An anesthesia is introduced in the groin area to numb the part where the catheter is inserted. A long, thin, and flexible hollow tube is inserted into a major vein through a small incision and passed along the natural blood path all the way to the heart.

A PFO closure device attached at the end of the catheter then specifies the precise location of the heart wall defect. Once the location is locked in, the PFO closure device is formed so that it overlaps each side of the opening. The device is then left in the septum to deter any abnormal blood flow between the two atria. The catheter is then aseptically removed to finally complete the procedure.



PFO closure procedures are performed in the hospitals under the Satori World Medical Global Network. Log on to Satori’s official website for more information on the procedures offered in its hospitals.

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