What is the Foramen Ovale?
The foramen ovale is a small hole located in the septum, which is the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart (atria).
Before a baby is born, it does not use its lungs to get blood rich in oxygen. Instead, this blood comes from the mother’s placenta and is delivered through the umbilical cord. The foramen ovale makes it possible for the blood to go from the veins to the right side of the fetus’ heart, and then directly to the left side of the heart.
The foramen ovale normally closes after birth. Once it is closed, the blood flows to the lungs to get oxygen before it enters the left side of the heart and gets pumped to the rest of the body.
What is a Patent Foramen Ovale?
A patent foramen ovale (PFO) means the foramen ovale did not close properly at birth, so there is still an opening in the septum. In most cases, the PFO does not stay open at all times. Instead, it’s more like a flap that opens when there is higher pressure than normal in the chambers on the right side of the heart. Situations that can cause greater pressure include straining during bowel movements, coughing and sneezing. When the pressure gets high enough, blood may move from the right atrium to the left atrium.
What are the Risks and Symptoms of Patent Foramen Ovale?
Most patients with a PFO do not have any symptoms. However, the condition may play a role in migraine headaches and it increases the risk of stroke, transient ischemic attack and heart attack.
What is a patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure device placement procedure?
A catheter based procedure can be used to guide the placement of a patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure device – which becomes a permanent implant – that will close the hole (prevent the flap from opening) in the heart wall.
If you are interested in discussing the option of a PFO closure, please contact our office at 303-595-2727