PFO: Button me up, but wait … Comprehensive evaluation of the patient


Aurora Cardiovascular Services, Aurora Sinai/Aurora St. Luke's Medical Centers


Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a slit or tunnel-like communication in the atrial septum occurring in approximately 25% of the population. A wide number of pathological conditions have been linked to its presence, most notably, cryptogenic stroke (CS) and migraine. However, in the setting of a neurological event, it is not often clear whether the PFO is pathogenically related to the index event or an incidental finding. Therefore, a detailed analysis of several clues is needed for understanding PFO's clinical significance, with a frequent case-by-case decision about destination therapy. Indeed, the controversy about PFO's pathogenicity prompted a paradigm shift of research interest from medical therapy with antiplatelets or anticoagulants to percutaneous transcatheter closure, in secondary prevention. Observational data and meta-analysis of observational studies had previously suggested that PFO closure with a device was a safe procedure with a low recurrence rate of stroke. To date, however, recent randomized controlled trials have not shown the superiority of PFO closure over medical therapy. Thus, the optimal strategy for secondary prevention of paradoxical embolism in patients with a PFO remains unclear. Moreover, the latest guidelines for the prevention on stroke restricted indications for PFO closure to patients with deep vein thrombosis and high-risk of its recurrence. Given these recent data, in the present review, we critically discuss current treatment options, pointing out the role of a comprehensive patient evaluation in overcoming PFO closure restrictions and planning the best management for each patient.

Document Type


PubMed ID




Link to Full Text