Patent Foramen Ovale Treatments

The two main treatment options for patent foramen ovale (PFO) are medication and surgery. Medications don’t actually treat PFO, but they can control blood clotting. This may help reduce the risk of stroke.


An implanted closure device is a new approach to treating PFO. The implant looks like a tiny umbrella with two ends, which is placed in the PFO by using a catheter (tiny tube) threaded to the heart from a vein in the thigh.

Once reaching the PFO, the implant is inserted in the flap and is released. As it expands, tissue then grows in and around it, sealing the PFO from both sides. Currently, the FDA only allows this procedure in patients who haven’t responded to medication and who have already had a second stroke.

Traditional open-heart surgery may rarely be used for patients with PFO who are not responsive to medication.

Studies are ongoing to determine whether the implanted closure device is better than drugs in helping reduce risk of recurrent stroke in patients who have had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack.