Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Closures | MedStar Health

A common opening in the dividing wall of the heart

During fetal development, a small opening called the foramen ovale exists between the upper left and right chambers of the heart. This opening usually closes shortly after birth, but when it doesn’t, the condition is called patent foramen ovale (PFO).

Most people with PFO do not require treatment. But in some cases, the opening in the heart wall must be closed. The surgeons at our adult congenital heart center perform patent foramen ovale closures and actively research innovative techniques to treat the condition.

Although PFO is present in approximately 25 percent of the population, many people do not experience symptoms. Often, the disease is discovered during screening for other conditions. Some patients who have PFO experience:

Tests

Diagnosing a potential congenital heart condition is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Treatments

When treatment for PFO is necessary, our heart and vascular teams work together and with other specialties to develop and implement individualized plans to treat the condition.

Patent foramen ovale and atrial septal defects treatments

Treatments for patent foramen ovales (PFO) and atrial septal defects (ASD), such as medication, closure devices, and surgery, vary based on your symptoms and risk factors.

Heart surgery

Heart surgery is an option to treat many heart conditions. You may need heart surgery, either as a lifesaving procedure or when other treatments haven’t worked.

Minimally invasive heart surgery

Minimally invasive heart surgery is used whenever possible to reduce risks and shorten recovery time after surgery to treat a variety of conditions.

Additional information

Adult congenital heart center

When you’re born with a heart problem, you may need complex care throughout your life. Our experts tailor this specialized care to your unique needs.

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.