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Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

What is PFO?

A foramen ovale is hole in the heart that is a normal part of fetal development. The hole usually closes and seals within a few months of birth. For about 25-33 percent of people, the hole doesn’t close completely, allowing a small amount of blood to pass from the right to left side of the heart. This is called a PFO. Most of the time PFOs do not cause any symptoms and do not require any treatment if found by accident.

When would you need a PFO closure?

While PFOs are common, in rare cases, they allow a blood clot to pass from the right to the left side of the heart. The clot can travel to the brain causing a stroke. Most strokes are caused by other conditions such as atrial fibrillation, abnormalities in blood vessels, clots on artificial valves or clotting disorders. A stroke that cannot be attributed to these or other causes is called a cryptogenic stroke. If the PFO is believed to have been a factor in cryptogenic stroke, a cardiologist might perform a PFO closure to prevent future strokes. Other treatment options include blood thinning medications or, in rare cases, surgery.

Why choose our program for PFO closures?

  • The CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center has been providing PFO closure services since 2007. Our experienced cardiologists take special interest in improving the lives of their patients.
  • Our team works cooperatively with the patient, their family and other specialists to develop an safe, effective treatment plan that provides the best outcome.

If you have questions about our program, our Structural Heart coordinator would be happy to assist you. Please call us at 320-656-7020.