PFO refers to “patent foramen ovale,” a small hole between
the top chambers of the heart. This connection is present in all people
in utero, but usually closes after birth. In certain cases, blood clots
can travel through this small connection and cause a stroke. These patients
may benefit from PFO closure. Dr. Raney received expert training in the
PFO and ASD (atrial septal defect) closure at the prestigious Scripps
Clinic in San Diego, and performs PFO closure at St. Joseph and St. Jude
hospitals. Dr. Raney is the highest volume operator for PFO closure in
Which patients will need PFO closure?
A PFO is present in up to 30% of the population, and only a small number
of these will need to be closed. PFO closure is generally recommended
for patients with a PFO who have had a stroke and no other obvious cause
for the stroke. The decision to perform PFO closure is complex, and Dr.
Raney works with a neurologist on each case to make sure the procedure
How is the PFO closure procedure performed?
General anesthesia is used in most cases to ensure the patient is comfortable
during the procedure. A small catheter (tube) is inserted into the femoral
vein, which is a blood vessel near the hip. This small tube is advanced
across the PFO under live ultrasound guidance. The PFO occlusion device
is then advanced through the tube into the left atrium. The first disc
is deployed in the left atrium. The device is then pulled back, and a
second disc is deployed in the right atrium. The PFO connection is then
closed by the 2 discs. Once the appropriate position is confirmed, the
device is left in place.
What is the recovery from a PFO closure procedure?
After the procedure, patients lie flat for 4-5 hours, and can then sit
upright in a chair. Patients can be discharged the same day or after a
one-night observation in the hospital.
After discharge, patients can resume everyday activity, including walking.
We recommend no heavy lifting for at least one week to give the vein time
to heal. Bruising around the femoral vein is normal, as a small amount
of blood may leak out into the soft tissue during the procedure. It is
ok to shower, but we recommend avoiding a bath until the puncture site