UPMC in Central Pa. cardiovascular surgeons perform the most advanced minimally invasive surgery for patients who need a PFO closure.
At UPMC in Central Pa., our cardiovascular surgeons are at the forefront of minimally invasive cardiovascular surgery. The minimally invasive PFO closure procedure performed by UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute surgeons may eliminate the need for open-heart surgery in certain patients. And, the procedure may also prevent the need for PFO patients to be on lifelong drug therapy to prevent strokes.
A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole in the wall that divides the upper left and upper right chambers of your heart. Everyone has this opening before birth, but it should grow closed at birth or shortly thereafter. However, in some individuals the hole remains open.
Many cases of PFO do not cause any symptoms and do not have to be treated. However, in some cases, blood clots in the heart may move through the PFO, travel to the brain, and cause a stroke.
A PFO can also cause a significant amount of blood to bypass the lungs, resulting in low blood oxygen levels, which is called hypoxia. This usually happens when other conditions are present, such as congenital or valvular heart disease or pulmonary hypertension.
During PFO closure, your doctor will implant a closure device that plugs your PFO using a catheter that is threaded through a vein in your groin and guided to your heart. Your doctor will guide the device using the imaging assistance of an electrocardiogram.
The PFO closure procedure is relatively painless and does not require any surgical incisions. The procedure takes between 30 minutes and two hours.
After a PFO closure, you may be able to leave the hospital the same day or after an overnight stay. Before you leave the hospital, a chest x-ray and/or echocardiogram will be performed to make sure your PFO closure device is still positioned properly.
After a PFO closure procedure, most people have minimal restrictions on normal physical activity. You should talk to your doctor about when you will be able to drive and return to work.
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